A little late to this, but FirstPost.com’s coverage of the Jaipur Literature Festival included this little gem:
Hoshang Merchant, India’s first gay poet, says he liked being noticed as a gay writer since its difficult to be noticed. Now however, he says that it is a straitjacket. The conversation moves on to Vikram Seth, where R Raj Rao says Seth compromised for mainstream acceptance so as not to be stuck with the label of a gay writer.
Hoshang merchant says gender is genre. Gays should not write straight books like vikram seth . He is arch enemy in my camp. Genres are foisted on the author.
I’ve not read Hoshang Merchant and have not read any of his work. I have read Seth however. Everything he’s written. But this isn’t a review of Hosang’s work vs. Seth’s. As we celebrate Pride Week, I wonder what are we fighting for? Are we all fighting for the same rights? If yes, should one of us limit ourselves to writing only queer themes? This was recently brought up on Gaysi by a reader who says,
I thought it was nice that this blog is restricted to only LGBT-related content because there are few desi blogs dedicated to this subject. There are lots of places for people to read about recipes, general books etc. but few places that are dedicated platforms for desi LGBTs.
I believe that queer people of any race and any origin should be able to write about whatever the fuck they want. If my language is strong, it is because I feel passionately so about this subject. I am also slightly incensed Hosang calls Seth a sell out, though not in as many words. If we are fighting for acceptance, if we are fighting for unity and equal rights and opportunities, how dare we limit ourselves and our imagination. Why shouldn’t we write straight love stories? Why shouldn’t straight people write a queer crime story? I find it deplorable that Hosang expects Vikram to be a poster boy for gay literature and proceeds to undermine him for being anything less. This is reminiscent of second wave feminism when women who didn’t join the bra-burning, men-bashing brigade were considered stupid and treacherous. Since I wasn’t at JLT myself and must rely on this report, I must add this clause… if Hosang does indeed consider Seth the ‘arch enemy’ in his camp, I do worry what camp he belongs to and how big it is.