The deadline for the submission of the abstracts/ideas of the above is September 30th, 2017. So hurry up and write to gaysifamily[at]gmail[dot]com.
The human journey has always been marked by our quest to understand love, and imbibe its essence in our lives. Someone once rightly said that you haven’t truly lived if you haven’t loved. But what happens if the love is same-sex love? What if it is forbidden where you live? It becomes a tremendous danger…
This year has been bumpy for us. We lost some precious friends and loved ones, got our hearts broken, our worlds altered, and drifted away from our paths more than once. The only thing that helped us survive was clinging to the memories of our individual journeys at Gaysi, how we got this far, and why we started it in the first place.
Gaysi was created nine years ago out of a deep hunger to know and connect with other lesbians. Back then it was an effort to convince ourselves of the existence of other lesbians in India because there was a thick mist of invisibility wrapped around many of us. The course of lesbian visibility in India has been like Delhi monsoon – charted by events that are few and far between – a few books here and there, the odd documentary with no happy ending in and some isolated episodes of lesbian lives consumed by their own sensationalism, leaving no trace of the life that was its context.
Even the law renders our existence invisible. Section 377 of the IPC makes homosexual acts between men illegal but it does not technically have lesbianism in its purview, since the legal definition of intercourse requires penetration. This invisibility conferred on us by the law – does not makes us ‘legal’ – rather makes our existence more shocking when it is revealed. Recent episodes have revealed the threats of sec 377: how it is used by families to coerce daughters to leave lesbian relations, by employers to justify firing lesbians, and by the media to sensationalise and distort the truths of lesbian lives.
With a few exceptions, our lives have often been reduced to pornography or caricature. Our sexuality is often seen through the lens of the male gaze. There are only a handful of safe social spaces in our country for lesbians to connect and meet with other local lesbians. How do we fight this sense of isolation? Even those of us in touch with each other are always in the process of learning to live as lesbians, navigating our lives cautiously, grasping at this identity as we go.
But now, the Internet has changed our lives, affecting not only how we connect with people who are like us and gathering information on law and pop culture, but also how we share stories of our lives online and create tangible social change to improve things for ourselves. Never before has it been so easy to find a queer-friendly bar in a new city or an organization whose ideology resonates with ours. It has made us smarter, and altered how we make sense of the world and ourselves. Despite all the warnings about the dangers of the internet, we have found it to be a deeply positive influence that allowed us to develop a shared language to share our feelings and experiences like never before.
Each one of us already knows how to navigate some portion of the world; what do you think might happen if we could put together all that we know and we are? We might build a living library! For all these reasons, we think it would be great to put together a compilation of lesbian stories for lesbians in the upcoming issue of The Gaysi Zine.
Many of you may not relate to this label or political identity, but for the purpose of this project – we are defining lesbians as a group of women utterly diverse in terms of region, class, community, age, and marital status but with this one thing in common – Our love for women – that makes us different from the rest of the world – and which brings us together.
This upcoming issue is not an attempt to define lesbian life but a simple endeavor to share our lives with each other. We want to take up space in a sexual way that keeps us safe but does not keep us quiet. We want to fill the pages with stories of the passion that chokes us and makes it hard for us to breathe. We want to display the autonomy of our desires with confidence, to voice our maddening dreams, to illustrate the diversity of our bodies and our pleasure occupying public spaces, to talk about our activism, and the battles of the past that have given us the contemporary present. We seek to document and historicize the voices around this excluded reality and to present the immense possibilities and potentials that it generates.
So send in your original work of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoirs, illustrations, photo essays, art, graphic stories, romance novel, scribbles, notes, haikus, journal entries, quotes, and scripts that reflect some aspect of your life. If you think you can’t write well, record your story on your phone and let us transcribe it. If you know someone whose story deserves to be in the zine, please connect us with them. We intend to make this issue a multi-lingual one, which means you can send us your stories in any language you prefer!
We hope that this issue can mean something beyond itself. We are going back to the basics this time, hoping to tie the knots more closely so we can know better. This is our way of allowing ourselves agency in the world: by writing our stories, by telling what has happened, by giving it back to us instead of feeling powerless in it, by ending the year on a happy and forgiving note.