Chronicling Queer Life in Chennai
Chennai is a city that offers second chances, then third, fourth, fifth and so on. In the larger Indian context; the politics of Tamil Nadu, the journey from self-determination to state autonomy, the state has been in a constant tiff with the domineering ‘nationalism’. As a metropolitan city and Tamil Nadu’s state capital, Chennai is also a home to a lot of migrants. Those of us who initiated this project are also migrants; we moved to the city at various phases of our lives and for various reasons. Chennai gave us a chance to be ourselves, to explore our bodies, desires, politics and identities. These chances were bundled with sacrifices too. Chennai is also a city that silenced some of the voices amidst the dominance of language, class and caste. Urban spaces hold the power to offer and negate solitude and community equally.
Queer communities, like all other communities, evolve in a way that is intricately related with their landscape. Chennai, as an urban landscape– the cultural-economic capital of a land with long history of culture and caste – has an equally complex Queer community of its own. The chronicles of which hasn’t been recorded on conventional mediums significantly. What urban landscapes lack in an oral tradition. This lack of oral history is somewhat complimented by the internet today, which again denies multitudes of voices. No macro theory or vision can be expected to portray or explain the community to its own members or outsiders. In a way, this process is a jigsaw puzzle. The narratives and books would be incomplete on their own. To be a truly complete narrative, it would take us time to come up with various stories from all walks.
The conscious marginalisation and denial of the Queer existence raises questions on how our future Queer generations have to start afresh with minimal resources as we did. The lack of documentation of Queer existence has forced us to document our own narratives.
Having said that, there can be no singular purpose for such an initiative. There is no aimed audience either. We all understand and navigate these spaces based on our own ideas. This initiative is a sliver of all the beauty, a silver lining amidst all the despair, and the silver linings within the narrow silver linings.
We have a vision for this initiative. These are not guidelines as in a rulebook, but guidelines which we hope will help to choose from our experiences to share and express. The initiative is about us and the city. The city as we understand it.
Our vision for Queer Chennai Chronicles is to collect individual and collective narratives from Queer people who associate with Chennai. We expect the narratives to be your experiences with the city as an individual, your personal experiences, how it embraced or alienated you, and your experiences with the Queer community of Chennai. Feel free to define ‘you’ and ‘the city’ yourself. The series of books would be in the formats of biography, anthology, non-fiction, fiction, art and photography.