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Editorial – Queering as a Way of Life

Artwork showing a a crowd of human-like figures standing under a massive umbrella. The background is light yellow and the umbrella as well the figures are alll multi-coloured.

Queering is not about being queer but about doing queer – about going beyond binaries of gender and sexuality, questioning accepted perspectives, and challenging and upending normative ways of being in the world. It’s a frightening idea for some, because it puts into disarray all of societies’ carefully constructed artifices that have been ingeniously engineered for the power and pleasure of a privileged few. But it is precisely with that same promise of unruly disarray, that queering offers us the possibility of living life on our own terms, and of bending and twisting and even doing away with terms, so we can live in freedom, joy and true reciprocity.

And so, queering may be a way of life for people who do not identify as queer, as well as those who do, and it begins with another Q word – questioning. Questioning the ‘given order’ of things. With her usual brilliance, Suchitra Dalvie cuts to the chase, and asks incisive questions that test our assumptions about life’s possibilities. Suchitra explores multiple themes ranging across marriage, gender roles, violence, intersecting identities, marginalisation, comprehensive sexuality education, divorce, the ‘should’ stories we tell ourselves, and ends with AI, robots and erotic dolls.

Erotic dolls remind us of longing and that’s where we go next, though not with erotic dolls but with queering longing. Ketan Jain uncovers the hidden nooks and crannies in this terrain fraught with absence and yearning. As he beautifully reveals, through poetry and song as well as everyday examples, the queer art of longing has the potential to change our perspectives as well as disrupt our lives.

Life is unpredictable. Things happen, good things, bad things. Sometimes, there is much good that emerges out of difficult situations. Raju Behara discovered that though the pandemic and consequent lockdowns brought tribulation, they also brought an unexpected surprise by pushing people into finding resilience and solace in queering their existence. Apoorva Ravi writes a candid account of navigating the queer spectrum and her own journey of unfolding, emotional intimacy and discovery of self. As an educator, Riya Parikh creates safe spaces for children to see things in a different light and to talk about diversity in people’s ways of being.

We have two poems plus a bonus for you – audio tracks of the poets reading their poems! Aakanksha Ahuja lovingly enumerates the queer possibilities that she wants to be for the people in her life. “To be” – two little words, but they are words of such power, of so much promise. Anjum, in Sara Haque’s poem of the same name, is a powerful eruption of rebellion and joy, a consummation of a promise.

In Hindi, we have two translations, both about language, but from different perspectives. The first is a translation of an anonymous contributor’s article The Absence of a Queer ‘Mother Tongue’ on the difficulties of finding words to talk about queer existence in regional languages. The second is a translation of Aditi Padiyar’s article Yaarana: Befriending Queer Literature and Hoshang Merchant on learning to normalise non-binary narratives.

Finally, check out Quick Bytes to see what our respondent Tejaswi Subramanian has to say on Queering as a Way of Life.

Go in peace. Go in strength.

Cover Image: Barabar Design