The Indian state of Uttar Pradesh is about to host its very first LGBTI literature festival.
After the Supreme Court decriminalized gay sex in September 2018, more and more LGBTI festivals are sprouting across the country.
Awadh Queer Literature Festival 2019 will take place in the capital Lucknow at International Baudh Shodh Sansthan, in the area of Gomti Nagar, on 8 and 9 February.
Calling all bookworms across India
The festival brings together gay, lesbian, bi and trans bookworms across India ‘through literary experiences that inspire, educate and entertain’.
‘The Supreme Court judgment is extremely empowering for queer communities,’ main organizer Yadavendra Singh Darvesh told GSN.
‘It has allowed us to express our constitutional rights. This fest is built on this by creating a space for queer visibility and acceptance and thus furthering the LGBTI movement in India.’
He also explained Lucknow provides a perfect setting as ‘it has a long history of literature and culture of acceptance’.
‘Lucknow has witnessed worst forms of human rights violations that have been perpetrated by the state,’ he also explained.
‘Now it’s the right time to that queer literature should claim its own space.’
The festival will include panels, book launches with dedicated queer reading and film screenings.
‘It will be an inspiration for new queer writers and won’t only benefit the queer community, but the greater community,’ said Darvesh.
‘We aspire to become an annual event that brings together queer literary community together across India.’
LGBTI Indian novels
Darvesh also had some recommendations for whoever wants to read LGBTI novels that shift the western-centric perspective.
- Same-Sex Love in India by Ruth Vanita & Saleem Kidwai
- Loving Women: Being Lesbian in Unprivileged India by Maya Sharma
- Straight to Normal: My Life as a Gay Man by Sharif D. Rangnekar
- Me Hijra, Me Laxmi by Laxmi Narayan Tripathi
- Shikhandi and Other Stories They Don’t Tell You by Devdutt Pattanaik
Moreover, he explained ‘it’s fairly easy for people to have access to queer literature in India’.
Despite this books have a good online presence, ‘it’s still difficult to find these books in bookstores in other smaller cities and towns’.