CHENNAI: Trace of queer lives in literature is very limited because understanding of it is restricted, said writer Dhamayanthi, speaking at Chennai’s first queer literature festival on Saturday.“The change that we expect in literature will reflect what happens in society,” she said. The one-day festival was organised to bring varied queer perspectives in literature across the country. It was host to panel discussions, orations, poetry and reading performances.Looking at puranic or ancient Indian literature in search of nature of queer lives in the past, might be redundant, said writer Nadika.
“Starting from Mahabharata, Ramayana to many other ancient literature, was mostly written by men; heterosexual elite men. It’s a tedious process to expect them to give voice to a marginalised queer community,” said Nadika, adding that “we should concentrate on creating more literature now than look into the past for validation. Our future generations should not be forced to start afresh with no resources,” she said at the festival.”
The Queer Litfest at Chennai, was the brainchild of C Moulee and LJ Violet, co-founders of Queer Chennai Chronicles. “We aimed to bring a conversation about queer Indian literature to bring together political and literary values of works that play a crucial role in the lives of a queer individual,” Moulee said.
The festival focused more on queer literature in regional languages. Lack of right words and loss in translation is a crucial reason why Tamil writers often don’t write on queer individuals, he claimed.Pavel Sagolsem, a co-founder of the chinky-homo project said Chennai is a city that’s less hostile than others to people from the north east.
“In many parts of the country, we are marginalised twice: Once because of our ethnicity and the second time, because of our sexual orientation. But my queer friends in Chennai said that they have always been met with friendliness and have even enjoyed the privilege of being an outsider and thus at the receiving end of help and care,” he said.