Description automatically generated                                                                                         Vol. 2 No. 1 (2022)


Being Queer: LGBTIQA Identities in South Asia

Anu Kuriakose


‘Queer’ has been a term of wider academic discussion for a few decades, that has in fact accentuated debates on gender and sexual identities, embodiment and expression, by focusing on political activism and interventions by queer people and their allies. It had been a derogatory term at first, but later was adopted as a proactive, politically radical alternative to the more assimilationist branches of the LGBT community (Bernstein 1). On thinking about the queer people – people who self-identify as a lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, questioning, asexual, non-binary- from South Asian perspective, one could notice that there has been tremendous shifts happening for a long time in every walks of life in terms of identity and activism for inclusion. The use of the term ‘South Asia’ in this context might appear as problematic from academic perspective, as it represents a region of multiculturalism and multilingualism. Therefore, the question is: how to look at one as a ‘South Asian Queer individual’?


The significance of this issue on LGBTIQA people in South Asia is to be stated at the outset itself in order to have a clarity on the focus theme. This issue is devoted to explore transgender and queer identities in all forms of public discourses in South Asia. Such an academic task necessarily requires an understanding of the contemporary issues concerning the queer people in the region apart from sufficient grasp on queer representations in the history of this region. The rights of people with same sex orientation continue to be unrecognised in some of the countries in South Asia and not all societies have accepted their existence in society. Same sex acts are still punishable with death in certain states that are ruled by fundamental religious principles. Apart from these, queer people also face discrimination in terms of their gender performance and gender expression. Among the different kinds of vulnerabilities queer people face, the major one is in terms of their citizenship and rights. Allied to this, health and wellbeing, employment and livelihood, housing and food, etc. are of widely discussed issues in this regard. The society is ruled by cisheteronormative majority and hence, the existence of queer people in South Asia is still in trouble. However, we could be hopeful about a better future tomorrow.


This issue of SINDHU seeks to delve into the ways in which trans and queer identities have been mobilized yet continue to be marginalized in different ways. Transgender and queer people try to express what it means to be queer to the cisheteronormative society through different artistic forms, music, cinema, literature which include narratives of fiction and non-fiction, public protests against queer and trans phobia, academic engagements, and they try to use the diverse lived experiences to reflect their realities, write themselves and their communities into being. What is more motivating about this specific issue of SINDHU is the response we have received from queer people themselves to talk about ‘being queer’ in South Asia. After carefully considering the submissions, we have decided to re-look at our criteria on the academic articles to provide space for creative expressions of queer people too. Hence, this issue contains one research article that analyses the representational politics of caste in a queer themed Hindi language film Geeli Pucchi, an interview with a transman queer poet who talks about their creativity and their unrelenting fight against patriarchy, an English translation of a poetry by an award winning trans woman poet, apart from the regular book review section. We make it clear that we have been forced to turn down submissions to meet quality in research on this subject. Comments and creative criticism on the published entries are most welcome.


Work Cited:

Sycamore, Mattilda Bernstein. That's Revolting!: Queer Strategies for Resisting Assimilation (illustrated, revised ed.). Counterpoint Press, 2008.