The 'roommates' trope infuriates me. Women in history who loved each other and had a sexual and romantic relationship written about by men as roommates or friends, even cousins. It breaks my heart to think of all the women like Emily Dickinson and more recently, Wanda Sykes who were married to men despite being queer. So many others have lived a disoriented life struggling to establish their sexuality as a part of their identity and gender dysphoria.
As a Bi person myself, I still find it difficult to fully embrace my sexuality even though I can see it existing all the way back to my teen years. It's hard to be yourself if who you are doesn't quite fit the templates of society's design. While conversations around identity are always complex, what I know would have helped me for sure is some representation — a book, a song, or a film validating my experience.
Luckily, it's beginning to happen now. Media and literature are slowly but surely headed towards a more inclusive representation of the human experience. A bright example is The Many Colours of Anshu a children's book narrating the story of a seven-year-old self who embarks on a journey to break free from the gendered blue into a world of colourful possibilities.
The book is written and illustrated by Anshuman Sathe and inspired by their own life experiences as a non-binary person. Anshuman, who was first exposed to the LGBTQIA+ community, while pursuing their undergrad in Bengaluru, says the book is a love letter to their childhood to Mid-Day, “As a kid, I did not realise that what I was doing was something outside the box. I did not have the vocabulary to express it. But somewhere in my heart I knew better and tried to express myself that way."
The book has been published by Gaysi Family, a media platform and safe zone for queer desis that was formed in 2008 that holds space for queer folks from across Southeast Asia to share their stories and experiences, while engaging with others from the community. For 14 years now, Gaysi Family has been a platform for queer, desi voices with a keen interest in storytelling with ever evolving rosters of formats — theater, spoken word, zines, and more recently, children's literature.
Offering readers a world vibrant with colour, this book is perfect for parents, caregivers, and educators seeking to initiate conversations about gender play and to equip their children with self-love and empathy. It's a creative and useful tool in a heteronormative society dissolving the ideas of binaries and creating a vulnerable, safe, and playful space of self expression that is free from judgment and censorship.