lgbt india

5 Essential Indian LGBT Books to Celebrate India’s Victory for LGBT Rights

Today, in a landmark victory for the Indian LGBT community, India’s Supreme Court has repealed a law criminalizing consensual gay sex. 

 

The law, Section 377, was put in place when the country was under British rule, and carried a maximum life sentence for the ‘crime’ of intercourse ‘against the order of nature.’

 

The news was greeted with cheers, tears and celebration as activists and members of the community celebrated this huge step forward for the Indian LGBT community. CNN spoke to Bismaya Kumar Raula outside the Supreme Court in New Delhi, who said “\

 

I can’t even explain how I am feeling right now. The long battle has been won. Finally we have been recognized by this country.

 

Bookstr extends a huge congratulations to the LGBT community in India on this historic day, and have put together a list of some key Indian LGBT books to read in celebration! 
 

 

1. Babyji by Abha Dawesar

 

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 Image Via Amazon

 

Sexy, surprising, and subversively wise, Babyji is the story of Anamika Sharma, a spirited student growing up in Delhi. At school she is an ace at quantum physics. At home she sneaks off to her parents’ scooter garage to read the Kamasutra. Before long she has seduced an elegant older divorcée and the family servant, and has caught the eye of a classmate coveted by all the boys.
With the world of adulthood dancing before her, Anamika confronts questions that would test someone twice her age. Ebullient, unfettered, and introducing one of the most charming heroines in contemporary fiction, Babyji is irresistible.

 

2. The Boyfriend by R. Raj Rao

 

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Image Via Amazon

 

One Saturday morning in late 1992, Yudi, a forty something gay journalist, picks up a nineteen-year-old Dalit boy in the Churchgate loo. After hurried sex, he gets rid of the boy, afraid that he may be a hustler. There is nothing to set this brief encounter apart from numerous others, and Yudi returns to his bachelor’s flat and sex with strangers. Months pass. But when riots break out in Mumbai, Yudi finds himself worrying about the boy from Churchgate station. He is in love. Chance brings the two together again, and this time they spend a week as a married couple in Yudi’s flat, take a holiday, and meet for beer every Friday, till the boy, Milind Mahadik, disappears (he has been hired by a modelling-cum-call-boy agency owned by the Bollywood star Ajay Kapur, a closet bisexual).

 

Desolate, Yudi finds solace in the company of the middle-aged painter Gauri, a highly-strung woman madly in love with him, whose advances he has consistently rejected. When Milind resurfaces, it is only to marry a girl chosen by his parents, for he has had it with Yudi and his kind. Yudi is heartbroken. But all is not lost: in straitened circumstances after marriage, Milind pays his gentleman friend a visit and stays the night. Henceforth, mutual need – Yudi’s for love and Milind’s for money – will keep bringing them together. In the final analysis, as Yudi tells Gauri – now the mistress of an ageing businessman – everything works out, and ‘life is beautiful’. In his first novel, R. Raj Rao brings us a tragi-comic love story from the jumbled up heart of Mumbai.

 

3. The Paths of Marriage by Mala Kumar

 

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Image Via Amazon

 

Lakshmi, a bright student who grew up in poverty, marries and immigrates to the United States from India to provide a better life for herself and her family. Clinging to her cultural realities, she forces her American daughter, Pooja, into an arranged marriage, creating a rift of resentment. Pooja’s daughter, Deepa, is an out lesbian to everyone but her family. The woman Deepa loves presents an ultimatum—come out to Pooja or break up—and Deepa is forced to confront her greatest fear. Three generations of Indian and Indian-American women navigate the harsh slums of Chennai to the bustle of New York City, struggling through a cathartic generational collision to try to come together as a family.

 

4. The Pregnant King by Devdutt Pattanaik

 

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 Image Via Amazon

 

What intrigued me to buy this book was the name, ‘The Pregnant King’. How can a king, a man, become pregnant? Is it at all possible??? This book revolves around the various emotions that surround humans; love, anger, submission to power & desire, helplessness, confusion, jealousy, hunger for power… In this book, emphasis has also been laid on following the right path or ‘dharma’. This book, a work of fiction, revolves around a king named Yuvanashava. How desperately he wants to father a son! It’s only after he has a son can he rule his kingdom and ensure his lineage is carried forward. He marries thrice in the need of a son. His mother, Shilavati, till then is the acting ‘king’ as she wants to be known. She does everything to follow the right path to run the kingdom successfully. Is Yuvanashava ever able to father a son? Is he able to rule the kingdom? Which of the wives bear him a son? Readers whose engagement with ancient texts runs along orthodox lines might not be too interested in a modern myth. But in a sense, this book is meant for such readers. At its best, this story is about the imperfection of the human condition and our stubborn refusal to make room for all those in between.

 

She of The Mountains by Vivek Shraya

 

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She of the Mountains is a beautifully rendered illustrated novel by Vivek Shraya, the author of the Lambda Literary Award finalist God Loves Hair. Shraya weaves a passionate, contemporary love story between a man and his body, with a re-imagining of Hindu mythology. Both narratives explore the complexities of embodiment and the damaging effects that policing gender and sexuality can have on the human heart.

Illustrations are by Raymond Biesinger, whose work has appeared in such publications as The New Yorker and the New York Times.

Vivek Shraya is a multimedia artist, working in the mediums of music, performance, literature, and film. His most recent film, What I LOVE about Being QUEER, has been expanded to include an online project and book with contributions from around the world. He is also author of God Loves Hair.

 

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