My sister and I were having a conversation on what the first piece of content that either of us consumed around the LGBT+ community was.

For me, it was outrage over killing a lesbian character which I couldn’t understand because I was in “writer” mode. I told my friend how the outrage was ridiculous because didn’t they see how important this character’s death was to the choices that the protagonist made? To this she said, quite simply, “Think of it from their point of view.”

And I did. But it took me longer to really understand their point of view. I was helped because once I really immersed myself into the topic of LGBT+ representation, I found a lot of articles that talked about queer baiting, how queer characters rarely get happy endings and on token representation. Things are changing now, of course, but at the time, it was quite an educative experience.

For my sister, it was gentler. She was into a show and there were Twitter trends happening because a gay man was finally stepping out of the closet, not settling for a marriage with a woman and going after the love of his life, a relationship he knew would open a pandora’s box. But he did it anyway.

Since my initiation, I have consumed a lot of content with happy representation of the queer community and what it has taught me is much like not talking about mental health creates this aura of secrecy, isolation and misinformation, not talking about gender and sexuality leads to similar results.

Anything that we don’t understand or that embarrasses us we term as taboo or talk about it in whispers as if it’s a disease that requires physical distancing. We also love to take moral high grounds, as if that makes more sense.

Speaking of high grounds, I saw this movie called Dance of the Forty One on Netflix and because it’s a period film, you know it’s going to end in violence but what the tableau showed was: here was a queer community that provided a safe space for its members to explore their sexuality and gender and yet it was they who were wrong – and not the people who participated in the violence against them. How is it that the people perpetrating violence are on a moral high ground than this club of 41 men who did nothing but celebrate each other and their queerness.

When it comes to India, I know we have tried to make movies and episodes around LGBT+ but again they have mostly been from a lens of violence, crass humour or over-the-top silliness. So, I’ll stick to “western concepts” for now.

The more content I have consumed, the more comfortable I have become with the subject. It has taught me so much about how we let someone else’s definitions influence how we define the world. I have even started to write characters and stories with queer characters, working hard towards showing them “normally” where their queerness is not a punchline but a part of their bigger identity.

My next branch on this road to normalizing different gender identities and expressions for myself is to read about asexual characters, transgender characters and gender non-binary characters.

If you’re looking for recommendations:

  1. The House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune – it’s a fantasy like no other I have read. It’s so gentle and soft that it’ll take you on a ride and leave you feeling warm and comfortable.
  2. The Singing Hills Cycle by Nghi Vo – another fantasy that will introduce you to badass women characters and a beautiful sapphic love story.
  3. Dawn by Octavia E. Butler – the fact this book was first published in 1987 and is still so relevant is mind blowing. Aliens rescue us because we have killed our planet and now, they’re demanding a price for saving us. The way gender plays throughout this series especially underpins the concept that gender is fluid, and violence is inherent in the human race.
  4. Here’s a piece that Blogchatter put together on pop culture and gender.
  5. Carol – starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara, it’s a movie about living your most authentic selves. There is a scene towards the end where Carol [Blanchett] makes a speech about the kind of mother she wants to be which is my favourite. 

And if you have recommendations – please share them!


Photo by Arantxa Treva from Pexels

This post is part of Blogchatter’s CauseAChatter, Gender Talks.

14 thoughts on “When was the first time you consumed a queer piece of content?

  1. I don’t distinctly remember the first piece of literature, art, music or video content which I consumed. But, I generally don’t like violence, crass humour or over-the-top silliness in general so don’t like it in this context naturally. I consume the content which makes me feel good instead of depress the shit out of me. It’s tough to chose man.

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  2. Initiation to the subject was through a podcast ‘De Taali’ in Spotify. Then read ‘ Queeristan’ nonfiction .. actually listened in Audible. It was great initiation- about and around inclusion of LGBTQ in workplace, company policies, cultures and a corporate inclusion journey through the decade and the way ahead. I would recommend it, though is a tad long. And in movies I liked Handmaiden korean movie.. can’t remember more at this point…

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  3. Hmm…I can’t remember the first time I read queer literature, but one of the movies that I really enjoyed was Brokeback Mountain. Though it is set in a time when same sex love is still forbidden, the movie treats the subject with so much sensitivity and compassion. We had watched it when it first came out, in 2005. Milk was another excellent movie on LGBTQ rights.

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  4. A sensible conversation and great recommendations!!! And ‘badass women and a beautiful love story’?! – I’m definitely going to read the Singing Hills Cycle now. Leaving aside all the terrible trans women representation in Indian movies, the first queer media I had was Percy Jackson. One of the side characters has a crush on Percy. And it was just so sweet. And Rick Riordan couldn’t have handled it better. It was exactly the push I needed to check my pre-formed opinions. My recommendation is ‘Girl Meets Boy’ by Ali Smith. It’s a novella and the prose is just so poetic and unapologetically WEIRD. And it takes the concept of ‘gender’ and has a go at it. And ‘Not Your Sidekick’ by C.B. Lee – a sci-fi, sapphic novel about superheroes.

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  5. Can’t say I have read or saw much content on the subject you have discussed here, but I liked your post which is informative and opens a whole lot about the community. Hoping that people learn to happily co exist and respect each other in this world.

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  6. Loved this post Suchita and thank you for sharing that very enlightening piece on queer baiting. I think my first encounter to the idea of LGBTQ was through books. Since then I’ve read some really good ones but, like you said, we need more of them. Putting The Singing Hills and Carol on my To Read, To Watch lists. You might like Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda – a heartwarming read, as also Red, White and Royal Blue. Those are the ones I can think off the top of my head.

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    1. I saw the movie Simon was based on 😊 and Red, White and Royal Blue I read last year. Had absolutely loved it. I was reading a YA after a long while and it just made me so nostalgic!

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