queer tales of northeast india

Queer Tales of Northeast (India) গুৱাহাটীৰ গল্পৰে: Gender, Sexuality, Human Rights

December 23, 2018

Queer lives are often lived and experienced in isolation and discretion, hidden away in secret diaries and forgotten letters. These secret diaries and letters are filled with stories of how someone cut their wrists with a blade, though they didn't die or a young school boy who committed suicide after their parents took them to the local priest to treat their gender non-conforming behaviour. Some of the stories are out there for everyone to see yet the society prefers to turn a blind eye to them. A lesbian couple who passes as “straight-looking” live together in a rented flat where their shared intimacy is confined within the bedroom - invisible and guarded from the eyes of neighbours and friends. Such are the stories of queers - invisiblised and isolated as visibility often invites experiences of shame, rejection, bullies or threats. And a northeastern queer is twice burdened as one continues to negotiate being queer and a northeasterner simultaneously. The geo-political reality of the region; within and its relation to the country is a complex conundrum of human rights violation, struggles for self determination, inter-community, communal and inter-ethnic conflicts, drug epidemic, poverty, etc. The region’s murky reality further intensified by it’s strained relationship with the rest of the country and border nations distresses the lives of northeastern queers in many ways. Stories of racial discrimination against northeastern queers in “mainland India” are not new phenomena. Such incidents raise serious questions of racial, regional, ethnic prejudices, yet the change we sought is far from materialising.

Queer activism in the region spread across different states has been active for years now but violence and discrimination against queer people sees no end. Queer collectives and safe spaces for queers are also rising steadily but not enough yet. The fact that queer spaces and queer lives are still received with hostility and indifference meted out against the community even now poses a risk for violence and untoward incidents and hence such spaces and organising are also often forced to operate in secret and discreet networks. Those who prefer to come out and organise publicly faces the challenges of sustained support and encouragement from other stakeholders in power within the region, though one must not undermine the change queer activism has brought in some spheres. Change is what drives us to continue fighting, yet our battles are challenging and monumental. The question then is what exactly constitutes the life of a northeastern queer? How do they negotiate their lives in the region’s murky reality vis-à-vis the country?

“Queer tales of Northeast (India)” is an attempt to unravel these complex life experiences. In the গুৱাহাটীৰ গল্পৰে we strive to address queer tales of the city through an interactive session on the issues given below but not limiting to it:

  • Invisible tales of queer people in the city.
  • Home and/in the city: Anonymity vs belongingness of a queer life in Guwahati.
  • Invisibility of cis queer women and their lives as they have lived.
  • Bisexuality and their misheard and misunderstood stories.
  • Non-binary and gender non-conforming lives.
  • Twice stigmatised: Queer people living with HIV (QPLHIV)

The Chinky Homo Project is a digital and print anthology of Northeast India. It seeks to record, archive and disseminate testimonies, fictions, photo essay and myriad forms of digital and print based expressions from queer people belonging to the region

Nething is a collective, concept store and shared space based In Guwahati. NEthing hosts books and products from the North East. Its space and facilities can be shared as office.

Xomonnoy is an intersectional queer feminist group based in Guwahati.

For more such events, look through the Curating the Conscious page.