Aiming to create a conversation about Queer Indian literature, Queerness in India and more, the Chennai Queer LitFest is scheduled to take place on September 14.

Inclusive kids literature to open mic 2nd Chennai Queer LitFest has a lot in store
news LGBTQIA+ Tuesday, September 03, 2019 - 17:14

Come September 14 and you can head over to Kavikko Convention Centre in Chennai for the second edition of the Chennai Queer LitFest. Scheduled to take place from 10 am to 5.30 pm, the LitFest will has an interesting array of panels and talks lined up in English and Tamil – right from inclusive children’s literature to an open mic to end the day with.

The Chennai Queer LitFest was first organised on July 7, 2018, by Queer Chennai Chronicles to celebrate and bring together varied queer perspectives about literature from, and about India. “The aim of the Chennai Queer LitFest is to create a conversation about Queer Indian literature, Queerness in India and to bring together political and literary values of the works that play an important role in the lives of queer persons,” a media release said.

The line-up this time around includes speakers from various walks of life, such as Hari Rajaledchumy, a London-based writer and artist; Maari Zwick-Maitreyi, a Dalit activist, artist and community historian who co-founded Dalit History Month and is the Research Director at Equality Labs; Kishor, an IT professional and author of Randu Purushanmar Chumbikkumbol (When Two Men Kiss), who is also a board member at Queerala, among others. The keynote address will be given by South Chennai MP and poet Dr Thamizhachi Thangapandian of the DMK.

The topics of discussion at the Chennai Queer LitFest 2019 will be on the following themes - Inclusive Children’s Literature, Art in Queer Literature, Translation and Queer Literature in Tamil and Malayalam. 

Speaking about the importance of inclusivity in children’s literature, Festival Curator Moulee, a gay rights activist, observed that children’s literature predominantly tends to be gendered. “It reinforces gender norms, and it’s not just the queer community that this affects – it’s everyone,” he says. Further, limited representation also makes children who do not fit into the ‘normal’ feel excluded.

He also points out that the second session at the LitFest – Art in Queer Literature – is important in the context of understanding representation and the stereotypes it can perpetuate, such as showing negative characters having dark skin while positive characters as having lighter skin.

Nadika, the Programme Director at the LitFest, is quite excited for the event, and is particularly looking forward to the session on inclusive children’s literature as well. Nadika is also curating the open mic. “The idea behind having an open mic was to include many perspectives that may otherwise get missed out in panel followed by a couple of audience questions format,” she says.

The theme for the open mic is ‘Norms and Attraction’, and each participant will have a time limit of 12 minutes.

The event is fully supported through crowdfunding. “I am hoping that there is more visibility to queer writers, translators and artists. And I wish this also enables conversation in the ‘mainstream’ literary space as to why there is a lack of representation of queer persons in the circle,” Moulee said. 

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