Pride Month 2021: 5 South Asian Queer Authors That You Need To Check Out Right Now
June is Pride Month. Yes, straight lives matter too; but not all straight lives grow up in a fear of their identity and face constant persecution from peers. Thus, it is important to understand the struggles of the queer community before yelling ‘there should be a straight month also, then’ in their faces.
And one of the best ways to familiarise oneself with queerhood journeys is through books written by such authors. So, for those who will to look beyond their homophobia, we shortlist five such authors from the sub-continent. From India and Sri Lanka to Pakistan and Afghanistan, this list covers stories from diverse communities and regions.
Novelist Shyam Selvadurai’s celebrated coming-of-age 1994 novel, Funny Boy is a timeless piece of queer literature. It was even adapted as a film by Deepa Mehta in 2020, which has an 81 percent freshness rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
It is a story of Arjie Chelvaratnam, a Tamil boy Arjie falling in love with a queer Sinhalese classmate. Prominent themes include hardening borders and violence of ethnic difference. It is also available as an audiobook on Audible.
Long before pride parades and the reading down of Section 377, book blogger Vivek Tejuja grew up as a gay man in a Sindhi joint family in Mumbai in the 1980s. He took the masses inside his challenging journey through his debut book, So Now You Know.
“For me, it was a unique period — realising I was gay, coming to terms with my sexuality, telling my family about it and what transpired thereafter. This book was just about growing up and understanding who I was and writing it was cathartic,” he told the Times of India in an interview.
In this genre-defying book Queeristan, author Parmesh Shahani — vice president at Godrej Industries Ltd — draws from his decade-long journey in the corporate world as an ‘out and proud gay man.’ In this book, he makes a cogent case for LGBTQ inclusion and lays down a step-by-step guide to reshaping office culture in India.
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Published during the pandemic era, the book has amassed popularity among millennial readers in the form of an e-book as well as an audiobook. The latter is also available on Audible.
The young Pakistan-origin author’s memoir We Have Always Been Here became a national bestseller in Canada. The book talks about exploration of faith, art, love, and queer sexuality through Habib’s journey — from being an Ahmadi Muslim in Pakistan to coming out as a brown queer person in Canada.
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“We Have Always Been Here is a rallying cry for anyone who has ever felt out of place and a testament to the power of fearlessly inhabiting one’s truest self,” according to the publishers Penguin Random House.
Nemat Sadat is a novelist, journalist, and activist, known for his debut novel The Carpet Weaver and his campaigning for LGBTQIA rights, particularly in the context of Muslim communities. Sadat was one of the first Afghans to have openly come out as gay and to campaign for gender freedom and sexual liberty.
The book is a sweeping tale of a young gay man’s struggle to come of age and find love in the face of brutal persecution. He is in the desperate search for a place to call home-and the fervent hope of reuniting with his beloved Maihan.
Images: Instagram/Parmesh, Nemat, Samra