Monday, May 12, 2014

Too hot to write

Vartanama, Clickhappy! May '14
By Pawan Dhall

May is too hot to write an editorial, but not too hot . . .

LGBT beats

InsightMay '14
By Pawan Dhall

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) or queer communities in India have long had a love-hate relationship with the media. The anguish at not being written about accurately and sensitively, the sense of being let down at the queer diversity not being represented adequately, is often coupled with the appreciation that the media has indeed helped in mobilizing queer communities and advocating their concerns with the public at large and the powers that be.

Qatha: Love in Calcutta via Africa and UK (part 2)

People, May '14
By Pawan Dhall and Sukanya Roy Ghose

Varta brings you the ‘Queer Kolkata Oral History Project’, an initiative to document five decades of queer lives in Kolkata (1960-2000). Our aim in this project is to go back in time and bring forward diverse queer voices through a series of interviews, which will provide a landmark to Kolkata city's queer history. Typically, the focus will be on the queer scenario in Kolkata during the growing up years of each interviewee – how it was to be queer in Kolkata in different decades since the 1960s till more recent times. The effort will be to bring forward a mix of the well known and the lesser known voices. Apart from the excerpts published here, the project also aims to publish a collection of the interviews in different formats. All interviews are based on informed consent and where requested, all markers of identity have been removed for reasons of confidentiality.

In this issue we bring you the second and final part of an interview with Pia and Kiki, both in their late 40s, who live together in Kolkata. Pia is a community volunteer and writer, while Kiki is associated with the education sector. In the first part of the interview (published in the April 2014 issue of Varta), they talked about the journeys which brought them together. In this part, they speak about the challenges of living out a same-sex relationship and their hopes of a better future for queer people.
The interview was conducted by Pawan Dhall on May 10, 2013, and transcribed by freelancer Sukanya Roy Ghose.


Poetry, May '14
By Rajib Chakrabarti

Will my emotions ever wake up from this comatose state?
Shall we ever wake up from this state?

The iron islets in his palms
buried my hair in his skin, and yet
signals from deep within
warn me never to unveil.

No scope at all for warming up
in any relationship,
only lethal infection in a web
of endless cooling down.

Barred from every other profession
and hated for usury, well, for which
the virtuous majority
themselves had use;
the non-violent love meat, though the butchers
come from a filthier community.

I am compelled to change the colour
of the smoke again and again;
the heat and the invisible colour
of the fire do not change
an atto-unit.

Though I can get the right quantity
of breeze only if I open the door wide
I open windows of different
sizes when I get a chance.

I look at a rectangle above a square
or at an equilateral triangle
with a faint hope that I’ll find a place
as plastic surgery over his wound
and one day feel his torrid touch
when he forgets himself, though every night
he cleans his lens in a solution
of fear and ignorance.

Rajib Chakrabarti teaches English and hopes that scientific rationalism and secular ethics will one day replace religious dogma.

Radical love

From the Archives, May '14
Sayan Bhattacharya delves into the Counsel Club archives and discovers a transgressive world of desire at a time when queer visibility in India was still in a nascent stage. These series of articles intend to create an archive of the queer movement in Bengal and India – not a chronological narrative of the movement, rather anecdotal histories capturing the little voices that are often lost in general historical accounts – voices from thousands of letters received by Counsel Club, one of India’s earliest queer support groups (1993 to 2002), and from the group’s house journal Naya Pravartak.

It was a few months back, just after a Supreme Court verdict recriminalized ‘carnal intercourse against the order of nature’ (under Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code), that a friend introduced me to a unit member of the Satyamev Jayate TV programme, the second season of which is currently on air. Aamir Khan is of course back as the Indian Oprah Winfrey. I was told that they would dedicate one episode to non-normative sexualities. So they would need interviews. I introduced him to two of my transgender friends. This person also asked me whether I could speak on camera. However, his next question was whether I have a partner. I was immediately disqualified. My transgender friends were disqualified too!

Heat stroke!

Advice - Mind, Body and Family, May '14
By Dr. Tirthankar Guha Thakurta

Remember the good old days of summer vacations? It was all fun except the holiday homework. With the earth warming up every day, summer holidays have become more of a necessity than fun.

No stopping living together

Advice - Rights and Laws, May '14
By Kaushik Gupta

Reader queries

My age is 23 years old and my partner is 22 years old. I want to spend my life with my partner. But I can’t see the way forward. If our families don’t support us, what should I do so that I can live with my partner and not face any problem? Please help me.