Art + Photo Essay Music Theatre TV + Movies

Queer Classics: Our Stories Of Joy, Hope And Resistance

The aim is to look at the pop-culture narratives that have populated your life and years growing up and to redo them in a way that could have reflected and included you in them back then. It’s to rewrite the stories that were left incomplete because they didn’t quite include your experiences. 

What do you mean by queer classics?

Growing up, all the stories that we read, all the music we grooved to and all the images we saw, we had to deliberately write ourselves into. Queer classics is our attempt at creating a pop-culture queer canon where the stories are ours and about us. 

Our hope for the 8th edition of The Gaysi Zine is that it will be an heirloom we pass onto future generations: a collection of joyful imaginations and possibilities for young folx to hold onto and older ones to find themselves in. This is the book we want you to curl up with on an armchair. This is the book we excitedly tell our friends about. This is the book that talks to us about us. It’s joyful and light and features us at our best.

What kinds of stories can be a part of this edition?

Think of that song you’d listen to on loop, or that film you saw ten times or the book which has dog ears from being flipped through a million times and think about what it would’ve been like if it was written specifically for you. 

You can take a piece that has resonated with you deeply or you can pick up a narrative that has irked you because of how it represented someone or something. You can even rewrite tropes of romance or friendship or family or courtship. 

The aim is to look at the pop-culture narratives that have populated your life and years growing up and to redo them in a way that could have reflected and included you in them back then. It’s to rewrite the stories that were left incomplete because they didn’t quite include your experiences. 

These reimaginations don’t just have to be about love or romance. They can be about chosen families, queer friendship, coming-of-age, the themes are endless, and these can be comics, advertisements, films, songs, music videos whathaveyou. 

A non-exhaustive list of examples:

  1. Films: Sholay’s Jai-Veeru and their mighty friendship. Did you see possibilities for stories of queer friendship?
  2. Advertisements: Queer folx and families on ‘Humara Bajaj’ scooter?
  3. Songs: Mere Saamne Wali Khidki Mein. Who was in your saamne vaali khidki (window in front of your house)? Often we are drawn to songs whose lyrics we might resonate with, and even use, yet the picturisation reminds us all too quickly that they are meant for a cis-het audience. How would you reimagine this?
  4. Shows: Shakalaka Boom Boom with Sanju and his friends. Did you perhaps see beyond codified representations of gender in the binary?

Think editions of luttappi, tinkle, magic pot or chandamama, think of the words and music of Rahman, Euphoria, Band of Boys, Viva, Bombay Vikings and Indian Ocean, think episodes of Shaktimaan or Hip Hip Hurray or even Kasauti Zindagi Ki, Minnukettu, Dil Mil Gaye or Cinemala, or the advertisements of Bajaj Scooter, Joyalukkas, Popy Kuda or Nirma.

And it goes on! Here’s to us creating our queer classics.

Why queer classics?

Since its inception, Gaysi has strived to be the space we needed and to give ourselves the stories we couldn’t find otherwise. When stories and experiences of fellow desi queers were hard to access, we created a blog space so we could find each other. When we wanted to see our stories of love and desire, we sourced and platformed narratives of queer desire. When we wished for stories we could’ve seen ourselves in as children, we created children’s books. 

Pop-culture narratives are meant to capture, and sometimes dictate, the spirit of its times. They influence our desires, our hopes and our plans for the future. Pop-culture tells the story of a generation. But how can it, when it leaves out entire communities? As we know only too well, pop-culture doesn’t always represent people well, or even represent all of us. In fact, pop-culture is often full of unhelpful and problematic tropes.

This edition, we want to rewrite, reinvent and recapture the zeitgeist to include our stories. 

Our joy is as much a story of resistance and endurance, of thriving in the face of insurmountable odds, as it is a story of celebration. Now, we at Gaysi want to go back to the stories that made us and remake them into stories we can cherish as a community.

This edition we’re here to put out stories we craved growing up: stories of queer joy, hope and resistance.

What are the guidelines for submission?

The deadline for submission is 17th May so please make sure your proposals have been sent to gaysifamily[at]gmail[dot]com by then with the subject line ‘Issue 08: Queer Classics’. 

  1. Only original and unpublished work will be considered.
  2. We are looking for original fiction, non-fiction, essays, photo essays, illustrations, poetry, art, graphic stories, scribbles, notes, quotes, or any other explorations on the theme ‘queer classics’.
  3. Narratives that are of ‘Indian’ sensibilities, talking about issues or stories that are inimitably Indian and picked from popular culture of the subcontinent are encouraged.
  4. To help us gauge more closely, we suggest you send in an abstract of the submission you’re planning to send. It should include a thorough outline that introduces your piece proposal and how it plans to explore the theme.
  5. The maximum word limit for textual submissions is 2,500 words; there is no minimum length. Do share a brief bio and your SM links with your submission.
  6. All visual art submissions, your pitch must include the following details:
    1. Title of the piece. 
    2. Nature of the piece (graphic narrative, illustration, photo-essay, photo series, collage, etc.)
    3. Brief overview of the concept and how it relates to the theme.
    4. Rough breakdown of the piece (in order to gauge how the concept will be expressed, please provide a few details such as the sequence of panels, or quick key points that the piece will cover).
    5. Color treatment (B&W/4-color, etc.)
    6. A little about yourself (a brief bio and your SM links).
    7. 4-5 samples of most recent/relevant work.
  7. Any content that is even mildly offensive or in any form derogatory to the LGBTQIA+ community will not be considered.
  8. Due to the volume of queries and submissions normally received, do allow us two weeks to respond from the date of receipt.

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Anushka Jadhav, cofounder of No Country for Women, is an Educator and Artist who does workshops on Gender, Sex and Sexuality in school and colleges around the country for various stakeholders. She does the programming for the Zine Bazaar and helps design, curate and organize Gaysi Family's on-ground workshops and talks.
Anushka Jadhav

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