Have you given a thought to the role that words play in forming a community?
The role of literature in forming a community – defining it, giving it shape, outlining its contours – is evident. And by literature, I mean the whole spectrum- from the pamphlets you toted in college for the next play your ‘dram soc’ was organising, to Gaysi, and everything in between. By this measure, the lack of a thriving modern literary culture of the LGBTQ community in India is telling. When was the last time you heard of a Marathi Queer novel, or an Assamese Gay poem? A Punjabi lesbian short story, then?
If you are reading this post, you’re probably someone who spends a good amount of time on the Internet. Surfing through waves of bytes and processing information to share with your online community – being the true netizen of the digital age.
But the Internet, the sprawling megalopolis of Information big and small, throws very little your way when you search for Indian Queer literature, whether in English, or in regional languages. Most of what is, right now, available spirals speedily into a pornfest of images and passages of intercourse, some rather delectable ones, as we’re also aware.
But here’s the question: Where is the community I’m seeking – the community I need – to find myself? Where was the community you needed when you sought yourself, in the space you inhabit (virtually) all the time?
And yet, I’m certain, there are voices all over the country. There have to be! Voices speaking in low tones, telling their stories to people who can hear them. Telling their stories in a language I don’t know. Waiting, just waiting to be discovered and heard by those of us who can’t speak their tongue. There have to be texts – poems, stories, paragraphs, novels, pamphlets, articles, stuff as yet unwritten but thought of – that describe Queer experiences.
What is missing is a space for them to be heard.
Know of an author, a work of fiction, a story and always wanted others to read it but it wasn’t available in English? Know regional languages besides English?
Come, help us in the space we are committed to creating – it’s called Writers’ Bloc and it’s all about discovering works of regional Queer fiction and translating them into English and other Indian languages on Gaysi. You can translate those works – poems, articles, short stories, novels, and yes, even the political pamphlet – and send them in. We’ll put it up.
We at Gaysi can use your knowledge and skills to find those texts, translate them and create something really big – your Queer community.
Here’s what we can achieve by creating this space. A coming out experience that could be a whole lot less painful to someone than what many of us faced. A knowledge that you are, in fact, not alone. A story of hope. Stories of great literary merit that you’re proud to read, and more importantly, contribute to. A voice of a community.
Editors note: I’ve known Ruswa and loved her writing for over two years now. When she proposed this new venture MJ & I were excited not just by the idea, but also about having her become part of the Gaysi team. Welcome, Ruswa! Once you read the post I hope that every one of you – lurkers and regulars will try to be part of this venture. Gaysi is a wonderful space (even if I say so myself) but I think it’s limited to mostly English speaking gaysis and this new venture will hopefully help to bridge the gap and provide a space for those who speak other languages. Also, it’s a wonderful way to get the English speaking gaysis to access literature from languages that they normally wouldn’t have access to. Let us know if you have any ideas that would help take this forward.