Where do the city’s lovers find shelter? Where do they canoodle? How do the queers make this big bad city their own? What is the gender of Delhi streets? Where the hell is the ‘minuscule minority’? How does desire move about in public space? What does it mean to kiss someone like Shalimar Bagh? Do queers age differently than others? How do memories of sexist and homophobic bullying stalk the grown-ups who’re badly failing at adulting? Will Delhi remember our loves? Or to ask the same question differently, will Delhi remember our failures?
These are some of the questions that Akhil Katyal’s poems, in Hindi, English and Punjabi, open up for us. Come join us for an evening of queer and feminist poetry and conversations. There will be a discussion with the poet after the reading.
Vohra will talk about her engagements with love as a prismatic idea for talking about politics and feminism, and about why art is so important when talking about the worlds of desire, gender and change. She will show clips from a couple of her films and spend some time talking about Agent of Ishq, a project that seeks to create a new language and inclusive conversation about love, sex and desire in India.
There are three issues at the heart of ‘Queering student politics’ – the question of representation of women and queer persons, the queering of the discourse, and the queering of the style of politics. Representation remains an issue even in the most progressive of campuses: JNU students elected a female President for the first time in five years in 2017. When the most urgent question is to defeat the regressive right-wing, finer issues of inclusion suffer a major setback. In order to queer the discourse, one of the foremost challenges is to build genuine solidarities among Muslims and sexual minorities: the nature of repression of both religious minorities as well as sexual minorities is the same wherein both are targeted on the basis of identity, the choice of how to live (e.g., beef and same-sex relations), and who they love and marry (e.g., Love Jihad and marriage inequality).
As for the style of politics, people today rally behind student leaders who are aggressively taking on the right-wing. People relate to those who they feel reflect their anger in language and semantics. But women, disabled, and queer people may find themselves out of place with this aggressive, masculine style of politics. While the right-wing student groups employ tropes derived from names of Hindu goddesses (Bharat Mata, Maa Durga ka apmaan, Maa Bhawani) and have the discursive capacity to project menstruating women, the disabled (Divyang), and transgendered – all as objects of worship, the left does not have equivalent devices. How do we then queer politics in general, and student politics in particular? How do we then rally women for a discourse that is genuinely emancipatory but whose style may put them off?
Queer is not only a fixed identity that is non-heterosexual but a continuing process that challenges heteronormative-patriarchal discourses and practices. Using auto-ethnography, Anand will put forward a conception of queering that necessitates querying exclusionary and dehumanising notions of collective identity categories such as that of the nation.
The Sexuality and Disability project works on the premise that people with disabilities are sexual beings, just like anyone else. Skin Stories is a small independent publication born out of this project – most of its growing community of writers lives with physical disabilities, mental illness and/or chronic illness. In a culture where both sexuality and disability are fraught and complex issues, what does a media project that addresses their intersection look like?
The talk will attempt to address questions around why the ‘personal’ essay is significant, what ‘legitimate’ media is, and what kind of writing can be considered not only political, but literary. It will be of interest to anyone interested in gender/sexuality, disability, art, media, technology and/or culture, and will feature readings and visual art from the publication.
Activist, public speaker, and transgender woman, Jessica Lynn knew from the age of four that her male birth assignment was not in alignment with her gender. She is fighting to see her youngest son after a Texas court terminated her parental rights over her then 12-year-old boy due to her gender transition. Jessica will talk about her experiences as a parent living as a transgender woman.