Last year saw the publication of some phenomenal LGBTQIA+ narratives. From Brandon Taylor’s short-story collection Filthy Animals and Nawaaz Ahmed’s Radiant Fugitives to scholarly works like Queering Tribal Folktales from East and Northeast India by Kaustav Chakraborty and Me, My Dad, and the End of the Rainbow by Benjamin Dean, each book catered to a desire to draw nourishment from the multiple histories of LGBTQIA+ people and the ongoing queer-rights movements worldwide.
This year too, it appears this momentum will be sustained, especially in India, as more publication houses here in the post-377 era look to bring out queer-themed titles. Here is a list of five nonfiction works, in order of their release, that you can keep an eye out for.
Queer Life-stories from Gujarat by, Maya Sharma; February, Yoda Press
Maya Sharma, a queer feminist activist, is an established name in queer literature. Her works, such as Loving Women: Being Lesbian in Unprivileged India (2006), reject the heteronormative-reproductive constructs that cage women’s experiences and study them in full, giving them their agency and sexual autonomy.
In Queer Life-stories from Gujarat, she tells a gamut of stories of queer individuals from her field visits in the state of Gujarat. She is particularly keen on sharing her findings from research on transmen and the shifting meaning of the term ‘lesbian’ in post-377 India.
A Small Step in a Long Journey: A Memoir, by Akkai Padmashali; March, Zubaan
A transgender activist and motivational speaker, Akkai Padmashali published her memoir Akkai in Kannada last year. A Small Step in a Long Journey is the English version of that memoir, which is narrated by Akkai in Kannada and English to Gowri Vijayakumar — an Assistant Professor of Sociology and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Brandeis University.
Padmashali, who has earlier expressed her discomfort with autobiographies by trans people seeking sympathy, traverses the struggles of her life and celebrates the Hijra tradition in her memoir. When it comes to talking about the people and NGOs who cater to trans people, she also critiques the concentration of power and agency in the hands of a few, calling perhaps for a more democratised way in which help and outreach are disseminated.
Get Out: A Gay Man’s Guide to Coming Out and Going Out, by Aniruddha Mahale; March, HarperCollins India
The concept of ‘coming out’ remains debated—a section of people feel that if heterosexual people don’t need to come out, then queer people needn’t have to either. However, the experience of coming to terms first with oneself, and letting immediate friends and family know that one may not be aligning with a taken-for-granted heteronormative identity can still be fraught with anxiety for many. It becomes even more difficult when one doesn’t know anyone else who’s been through the same experience.
Mumbai-based social media influencer and an LGBTQ activist, Aniruddha Mahale’s tongue-in-cheek book provides ‘best practices’ for gay men to come out and even navigate the dating landscape.
I am Onir, by Onir with Irene Dhar Malik; June, Penguin
Born Anirban Dhar, filmmaker Onir is celebrated worldwide for his path breaking movies, such as My Brother… Nikhil (2005) and I Am (2010). Though a few mainstream movies with queer characters in them existed before Onir, almost all of them were directed by cis-het people. In that sense, Onir’s movies brought great sensitivity into queer characters’ portrayals on-screen, making queer people feel and their deepest fears and vulnerabilities ‘seen’.
In his memoir, this National Film Award winner shares the story of his journey as a filmmaker and some exclusive behind-the-scenes moments of the making of his popular movies. He also dives deep into narrating the personal experiences that he mined to chart his path as a visual storyteller.
Before We Were Trans: A New History of Gender by Dr Kit Heyam; July, Hachette India
It may appear that celebrating the sexuality spectrum has become a ‘new normal’, but Leeds-based trans awareness trainer, writer, heritage practitioner, and academic Dr Kit Heyam’s work suggests that complexities existed even when we didn’t have a language to articulate them.
A lecturer in English in the department of humanities, Northumbria University, Heyam recently published The Reputation of Edward II: A Literary Transformation of History (Gendering the Late Medieval and Early Modern World). With their latest, they are looking to celebrate fluidity and unambiguity of sexual identity, by unearthing stories from the past, in particular of narratives of trans lives.
Saurabh Sharma is a Delhi-based queer writer