Always the source of how we see the world, books have aided our imagination and our perception of reality since the very beginning. Reading fascinating stories and believing in them until you eventually understand that the fictional worlds are merely a metaphor or a distorted reflection of what you see around you. Books play a huge role in what we believe, what we feel, and what we value.
Queer literature or books play an integral role in normalising queerness. When we read about queer characters, we know that they are valid. If queer people read and relate to queer characters, it will instil a sense of belonging. The presence of these books in every person’s library becomes so incredibly crucial for a larger movement of acceptance and love.
I. They Called Me Queer
A collection of stories written by Africans who identify as gay, lesbian, transgender, bisexual, queer, intersex, or asexual, ‘They Called Me Queer’ offers a plethora of queer experiences. Despite South Africa being comparatively tolerant of the community, queer people express their devastation with their unequal treatment in society. This compilation of testimonies, according to them, gives their struggle a voice and celebrates their identities.
II. Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin
A story set up in Paris, revolving around the life of an American man and his experiences and emotions regarding his relationships with other men. This novel is a testimonial to love and the fear around it as a gay man in the Parisian bohemian bars and nightclubs of the 1950s. The intricacies of the human heart when it comes to love are so vividly talked about in heteronormative books, ‘Giovanni’s Room’ aims to do the same for queer people.
III. Cobalt Blue by Sachin Kundalkar
A 2013 fictional drama novel by Indian film director, screenwriter and playwright Sachin Kundalkar, ‘Kobalt Blue’ is a story of a brother and sister who fall in love with the same man. It discusses the repercussions of the love triangle and how it shakes up a traditional Marathi family. As a love letter to heartbreak and the complexities of human emotion, the book navigates the filmy love triangles from a queer perspective.
IV. Kari by Amruta Patil
Written by one of India’s first graphic novelists, Amruta Patil, Kari is a lesbian graphic novel that highlights the task of navigating one’s sexuality in the public as well as the private sphere. It vividly describes the cumbersome experience of homosexual individuals living their life in a heterosexual and hetero-centric society. Much the regressive setups in rural areas, the book tells us that the metropolitan environment is still not ready for queer people and their demands and shows us what cities need to do to transform into spaces that are inclusive and open to queer individuals.
V. Memory of Light by Ruth Vanita
Penned by an academician and voracious advocate of the women’s movement and queer representation in literature and media in India, Ruth Vanita brings you a tale of two courtesans, Nafis Bai and Chapla Bai falling in love. Set in the pre-colonial world of poets and courtesans, the story unfolds in the Nawabi-era of Lucknow, In the author’s fictional world, this era is open about same-sex love and relationships and depicts that it is pitiful to see the modern world hate for it. The book normalises queer relationships by showing that, like any relationship, they too go through the common issues of jealousy, distance and insecurity.
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