BENGALURU: We may have come a long way in raising awareness about LGBTQIA+ inclusivity but there is still progress to be made. And this Bengalurean’s new anthology is a small step in that direction. Deviant: Chronicles of Pride, compiled and edited by Samhitha Reddy, is an anthology showcasing real-life stories and experiences of the LGBTQIA+ community.
An ally herself, Reddy chose to bring out this book as solidarity for the cause. The collection of personal experiences told through prose and poetry features authors from the USA, UK, Australia, India among others. The ethnicities they belong to are varied, such as Bahamian, Chinese, Canadian and UK, Guyanese, Cuban, Haitian and Italian, Cuban, Italian, among others.
“I have seen the taboo surrounding the community in my family and I think this journey started with dispelling certain misconceptions from a few family members. Eventually, these efforts culminated with me choosing this theme and publishing this book. Storytelling is an effective tool to spread love,” says the 23-year-old, who is currently pursuing an MSc in Human Rights at the London School of Economics and Political Science.
The book, published by Inkfeathers Publishing, explores diverse narratives that go beyond the ‘L’, ‘G’, ‘B’ and ‘T’. “While it is now gaining visibility and awareness, not all of us are aware of the ‘QIA+’ that comes after the ‘LGBT’. I felt the need to showcase these identities as well, especially the ‘+’ as the rainbow spectrum has countless identities and I am still learning and trying to be as aware of as possible,” says Reddy. It now features stories that explore various facets of queerness, being neuroqueer, and asexuality as well. Works of allies also feature, based on level of awareness, non-usage of stereotypes, etc.
As an ally who was compiling stories of those who belong to the community meant Reddy had to exercise extra care. “I made it a point to ask the authors before making any edits and if they were okay with the manner in which I had categorised their pieces. This was important as I found that some poems could be interpreted to fall under different identity expressions,” explains Reddy. “I needed to ensure that the authors’ voices were not lost through the editing process. This is because the term ‘queer’ means different things to different people,” she adds.
In the past, Reddy has curated a two-volume anthology titled, Shades of a Woman: Navigating Society as a Woman, and Liberation: Breaking the Glass Ceiling of Society. While her next is still a work in progress, it is likely to be related to Indian mythology. “I’m particularly keen on writing about the vanquished characters, more so the women,” she says. The book (Rs 220) is available on the Inkfeathers website.