Friday, October 23, 2015

‘O ma, how queer!’

Vartanama, Oct '15
By Pawan Dhall

Goddess Durga as Ardhanarishvara in a puja
organized by trans women in Kolkata
Photo credit: Pawan Dhall
It is queer when more than a dozen social researchers from different South Asian countries have to travel to Bangkok in Thailand to train for a study to be carried out in South Asia. More so when the focus of the study is on sections of society that often identify as ‘queer’ (a term that signifies a non-normative gender or sexuality). Well, yours truly was one among the researchers and so this editorial was inevitable!

Freedom fair and square

Insight, Happenings, Oct '15
Sukhdeep Singh recounts how 19-year-old trans man Shivy, a student of neurobiology, won an emotional and legal battle against his parents’ transphobia and trickery to marry him off forcibly

Delhi, October 5, 2015: When Shivy (born Shivani Bhat) came to India from USA with his mother in July this year, little did he realize that his own family would turn against him and make him a ‘prisoner’ in the country. What followed was a riveting story of exemplary courage shown by Shivy and a number of queer activists in Delhi who helped him escape his family’s clutches. The story culminated today in an equally brave verdict by the Delhi High Court, which directed the police to ensure that Shivy got back his identity and travel documents from his family and was able to return to USA.

Shivy (second from left) at a media conference in Delhi, September 25, 2015
Photo credit: Nazariya Queer Feminist Resource Group


My Story, Oct '15
Pratulananda Das shares how mathematician Alan Mathison Turing’s life story inspired him to come to terms with his own sexual orientation

All photographs provided by Pratulananda Das
I remember the day vividly when I could not keep my eyes off the young man working in a paddy field. It was drizzling and my younger brother and I were huddled together under an umbrella on our way to school. As I grew older I realized something was ‘wrong’ with me. That puzzled me. I felt frustrated that I never had an explanation for my lack of interest in girls, while the simplest of ads showing a man in his briefs would attract me for seemingly no reason. I guess being born in a conservative Bengali family did not help much in terms of understanding what I wanted from life and what would help quell the restlessness within me. I had no one to confide in and share my anxieties with.

Ifs and dos and don’ts for the queer in 76 countries

Poetry, Oct '13
By Rajib Chakrabarti

Learn the art of concealing
the thrill that you feel deep within.
If you fall in love
don’t let it so soften you
that the inevitable hurt becomes unbearable.

Star quest: Straight from a queer positive heart!

Clickhappy! Star Quest, Oct '15
By Kaustav Manna

Star of the month: Arunabha Hazra (all
photographs provided by Arunabha
unless otherwise mentioned)
The third (October 2013) and fourth (November 2013) issues of Varta carried a column called Star Quest, a series of photo-stories of individuals who may not be public figures like politicians, artistes, social activists or media persons, but have in their own way contributed to social equity and empowerment around gender, sexuality and related issues. For a variety of reasons, including priority given to other interview and photography based columns, Star Quest was discontinued. With this issue of Varta, we seek to revive the column and continue sharing innumerable untold stories twinkling with inspiration!

The contribution of the ‘stars’ we zoom in on may be in an intimate arena – among friends and neighbours, their local community, a village or slum school, their own work place and so on. It may not have attracted any media attention, yet the importance of their efforts cannot be underscored enough. Varta is happy to bring to light such hidden ‘stars’ and focus on endeavours that generate hope for a better present and future.