To document and actively be queering public space is a radical act.
And yet, it felt frustrating to be performing queerness for a camera, there were so many layers to work through- safety and comfort being the most obvious one, internalized shame being another that bubbled up unexpectedly, the feeling of futility and weariness was another.
Then, whilst editing, flicking through the images with zero expectations – it clicked. It became clear to me that what was most important about this shoot, and the fact that these images exist, in all their gritty, imperfect glory, was the de-centering of the cis straight onlooker in a majority of the images. In their reactions- their inability to process what was happening in front of them, in their stares, in their voyeurism – lay the perception that these queer desires were being performed almost entirely for their consumption. The power that we held in that moment, in the fact that we were queering spaces by subverting that gaze, naming it, documenting it, and actively archiving our rejection of it- that’s it.
These images feel heavy to me, difficult even- they represent a public queer Bombay that is still shedding its milk teeth, learning to channel its own power, struggling in more ways than one.
I can’t wait to grow up alongside this city and its queerness.
Sana Javeri Kadri is a sometimes salty, permanently hungry, queer photographer, writer and all round creative human. She was raised in post-colonial Bombay, wound up in the produce aisles of California and can currently be found @sanajaverikadri on Instagram or in person wherever there are vegetables to be found. She is currently schemer-in-chief for Diaspora Cooperative, which you should be very excited about.