Agents, this past month we brought you experiences, stories and histories of queer women. Despite the growing visibility of queer representation, LGBTQ narratives tend to be dominated by representations of gay cis men – perhaps mirroring the larger gender dynamics of society. Toh humne socha, why not tilt the balance a little – and create some resources that would widen the representation.
The material for this month’s theme shone light on three areas:
Personal experiences – We went beyond stories of coming out to explore a conversation about queer life as it is lived. This month the narratives we carried are a range of experiences about women loving women, bringing along voices from diverse backgrounds – urban, rural, peri-urban, younger and older – to help us see romance and desire for the non-linear experiences they are. Narratives of tingling sensations when in lust, falling for close friends, hurting from love’s cruelty, writing letters about it to somebody who would understand- all help open up the discussion about queer loving and living in their fuller forms.
Histories – For as long as homophobia and prejudice have existed, they have been countered by queer lives, loves, activism and creativity. The work of gathering these histories is an ongoing one and we did our bit this month by gathering some histories of queer women’s work: a reading list of queer romances and writings in different languages, an interview with writer Suniti Namjoshi about her fervent politics of art and caring, conversations about queer desire in rural and small-town India with writer Maya Sharma, Urdu poetry about lesbian loving from 18th-19th Century, a conversation with Ruth Vanita about her new novel and tracing the journey of the word Lesbian, over time and space, through inventing new words, to slurs and reclamations.
Guides – With illustrated, super-clear infographics on safe sex practices for women having sex with women, to suave and well-vouched-for dating tips from queer folks who have been-there-done-that, AOI put together handy helpers to clear your doubts and confusions about queer love and sex.
All this good stuff is as always, in English and Hindi – and here it is in one place for you to use as an easy reference. We hope you use it in your work, conversations, and thinking as you make the world more loving, livelier and smarter!
I Kissed A Girl And I Liked It – 7 Queer Women Tell Us About Their First Kiss With A Girl
With scintillating first kiss stories from queer women of different ages and locations, and Amruta Patil’s gorgeous brush strokes, these stories are sure to leave you with those dreamy, heady feelings.
“So Many Women, But It’s Her I Love”
First of the two edited excerpts from Maya Sharma’s book, Loving Women: Being Lesbian in Unprivileged India, shows the messy, stubborn love between two women in a small town even as it faces pressures of marital expectations from families and the society at large.
Shiela Ki Jawaani Ki Anokhi Kahaani
Second edited excerpt from Maya Sharma’s book, Loving Women: Being Lesbian in Unprivileged India that we published this month was the story of the mysterious heartthrob, Shiela, whose many romantic escapades are nothing short of an adventure ride, dwarfing a traumatic past.
What Falling For My Friend As A Lesbian Taught Me About How We Express Friendship
The common experience of the unreturned desire for best friend becomes sharply hurtful when it comes with the added pangs of subtle homophobia from near and dear ones . Read how Ritu dealt with it when she faced this, more than once.
You’ve Got Mail! Letters Between An Older and A Younger Lesbian
Discussions of coming out, loving, dating and futures in these letters exchanged between lesbians of different generations reveal the relationship between political activism and our personal lives, one story of change at a time.
Secret Loves And Broken Hearts: A Comic
Read Vimlesh and Kanak’s secret-yet-obvious messy, stubborn love affair in the comic form. Reformatted excerpt from Maya Sharma’s book Loving Women: Being Lesbian In Unprivileged India.
Satrangi Ladki, Atrangi Khiladi: A Comic About Shiela
Read about the dashing, lesbian player, Shiela, and her many romantic exploits, in the comic form. Reformatted excerpt from Maya Sharma’s book Loving Women: Being Lesbian In Unprivileged India.
‘Not because I have wisdom, but because I care’: An Interview with Suniti Namjoshi
Full of sharp wisdoms and quotable views, the poet, fabulist, lesbian, feminist writer shows the caring way to practice art, politics and love.
L Se Lesbian, L Se Love, L Se Library – A READING LIST!
Desi narratives of queer desiring, loving, and living- this reading list makes the hunt for a diverse collection of books just a little bit easier.
#WhenWomenLoveWomen in Unprivileged India- A Conversation With Maya Sharma
A Conversation With Ruth Vanita About Her Latest Novel ‘Memory of Light’
Steamy Shayari Alert! #WhenWomenLoveWomen in 19th Century Awadh
For all our basking in the glory of Indian erotic heritage, there’s very little khullam-khulla dedication to women in love and lust with women. But the late 18th- 19th century Urdu genre of Rekthi poetry brings us some steamy, juicy poetry-romances between women, a few of which we have put together here, based on the research and translation by Ruth Vanita and Saleem Kidwai.
THE L WORD – Konjum History, Zara Geography, Thoda Politics
Slurs, slangs, reclamations- a journey of through ways to say the word ‘Lesbian’ around the world and across time is also political articulation about desire in the face of discrimination and homophobia.
Safe Sex for Queer Women? Yes, Yes, Yes!
Sex between women may not get them pregnant but safety in sex is not about pregnancy prevention, na? This super sophisticated, myth-busting infographic explainer sets right the perception about safe-sex, with special attention for sex between queer women!
Pehle App! Online Dating Tips for Queer Ladies from Queer Ladies
App recommendations, manners & etiquettes, safety settings, conversations starters- tried and tested hacks and advices for a clearer way to connect.