The professor of management at VIT University was an active member of the queer community in Chennai.

Dr Shankar Ganesan one of the first openly queer academics from Tamil Nadu passes away
news Death Friday, July 26, 2019 - 17:48

In a tragic loss for Tamil Nadu, Dr Shankar Ganesan, one of the first openly queer academics from the state, passed away on Wednesday. The professor, who taught at the Vellore Institute of Technology's (VIT) Business School in Chennai, is reported to have suffered a cardiac arrest at his residence on campus. He was 50.

According to a statement from Orinam, a Chennai-based LGBTQIA+ bilingual resource group, Dr Shankar was part of several queer spaces in the city and sensitised many from his professional circle on LGBTQIA+ issues. This included members of the University, management and social work associations. Dr Shankar also helped take forward the discussion around diversity and inclusion at educational institutions, a passion of his. In addition to his role as a management professor, Dr Shankar was also a translator and theatre artiste. 

“Dr Shankar was part of so many of our queer spaces in Chennai – the reading group Quilt, film review group, peer-facilitated support group meetings, Pride planning meetings at Sahodaran, playback theatre, sensitisation programs with Nirangal, Sahodaran and Orinam, research studies, etc. He was a huge source of support to many people, including some young queer people who – with his support – have managed to cope with traumatic experiences of ragging/bulllying in their schools and colleges,” says a statement in his memory from Orinam.

Tributes also poured in from several of his students whose lives he has touched.

Speaking to TNM, intersex activist Gopi Shankar recalls that Dr Shankar had personally helped many queer students. “His coming out helped many students. It gave them confidence. He was a very humble and simple person, always encouraging of his students. He has personally accommodated trans persons who have been disowned by their families until they could get back on their feet. He has made immense contributions to LGBTQIA+ activism in Tamil as well as inclusion in the workplace. His death is a great loss to the queer community,” says Gopi.

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