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Editorial – Queering Sexuality

hundreds of jellyfish of diverse colours - orange, blue, pink, white, green, and more.

Much like a kaleidoscope offers us the possibility of seeing the beauty of constantly changing shapes and forms, queering offers us the possibility of the diversity and effulgence of being and becoming. That’s where the analogy ends. A kaleidoscope reflects images in a symmetrical pattern, and however beautiful, captivating, and countless these images maybe, they cannot break out of or escape their symmetry. Queering, on the other hand, transcends the confines of symmetry and is a way of looking, of breaking established meaning, of making new meaning, and of being and becoming that offers us the promise of fluidity, flux and freedom. 

Queering is not as lovely and easy as it sounds. It’s not a simple matter of picking up a tube that has two or more mirrors and looking through it. Because queering involves questioning, subverting, transgressing and upending established and even unarticulated heteronormative frameworks, it can be painful, hard and messy, leaving us with more troubling questions than with easy comforting answers. In a deeply political as well as personal interview, Srila Roy, author of Changing the Subject: Feminist and Queer Politics in Neoliberal India, talks with Shikha Aleya about questions of difference, social movement organizing, co-optation,“space invaders”, and multiple other connected issues, while reminding us that we often cannot wrap things up into neat little bundles, and that we may never “get it absolutely right”.

Not getting it right is not failure. And even if it were, what if in failure lies success? Rajeev Anand Kushwah reviews Jack Halberstam’s book, The Queer Art of Failure, a fascinating, irreverent and humorous exploration of how we may come up with an alternative vision of life, love and labour. ElsaMarie D’Silva’s review takes us into the world of the film The Half of It, a film about queerness, ethnicity, coming of age, friendship, and the nature of love and intimacy. Two girls, one boy, some deception, texted love letters, a queer triangle to be sure!

In Hindi, we have two translations. The first translation is of an interview with Srinidhi Raghavan talking about sexuality and disability, relationships, and “… how bodies of all kinds belong and occupy space in this world … how bodies of all kinds can enjoy this engagement.” The second is of an article by Shruti Arora about the potential of female friendships to subvert the patriarchal order and to support the expression of outlawed desires.  

Being outlawed or socially unacceptable or transgressive does not negate the existence of our queer desires and in our visual section we carry two videos that speak of this. One, Queer, is a hard-hitting spoken word poem by Anahita Sarabhai, co-founder of QueerAbad, who has featured in an earlier In Plainspeak interview. Two, a beautiful, reflective short film by film-maker Sonali Udaybabu (also part of our team a few years ago) pondering on Which Came First?  – her queer-ness or her queerness. 

Keep your light shining and queer your kaleidoscopes!