In 2008, Gaysi Family started The Gaysi Zine as a blog with only one aim: to provide a voice and safe space for the Queer folk in the South Asian sub-continent as a creative outlet – to share their stories. In 2011, they moved to print versions of the zine, self-funded and distributed for free in India. They struck a chord among readers and by the time the year was 2014, the Gaysi Zine was out and about crowdfunding for its third (and extremely gorgeous) print edition.
Cut to 2015, they’ve done what no other platform for the LGBTQ community has sought to do – launch India’s first ever queer graphic anthology. And you can rest assured, the anthology is a work of art unto itself, something one rarely gets to witness in the Indian literary space. But above all, what truly sets the anthology apart is its inclusivity. It’s not just for the Queer community – it is meant to appeal and relate to everyone.
Anuja Parikh, from the Gaysi Family, lets us in on all that went behind making this visual stunner.
On the need for a graphic edition, after three successful text-based editions…
The anthology’s main purpose for going graphic is to generate a greater acceptance by making it relatable to all kinds of people. And we all know that visuals speak louder than words. “Our main objective of going for a graphic edition was to explore the subject of queerness through visual-verbal literacy and rhetoric. This issue is both, a retelling and an active work of various artists’ and writers’ attempts to sort through their own identity and acknowledge the queer element in their lives - the choices that fall outside the heterosexual authority.
On the process of curating the stories and art…
Just one look at the anthology and one can't help but marvel at the varied talent and creativity it has managed to capture. Simply curating these stories and giving them equal limelight seems like a mammoth task in itself. Anuja sheds some light, “It takes us a little over six months to put together this annual issue, once we have the concept note. From there, it’s all about reaching out to people, discussing ideas, collecting stories, editing, re-editing, collecting more stories, and catching the essence of that particular issue. Once we understand what this issue is saying, we conceptualize the cover and the aesthetics of the magazine. The Art Director and I work very closely to ensure there is a profound harmony between the text and the visuals”.
The challenges of making the first of its kind graphic anthology…
It's not an easy path, of course. And we're not just talking about the general regression the community faces. Apart from the stigma, there are logistics too to sort out. From lack of funds, budget constraints, moving beyond the cauldron of Indian Queer Literature to venturing into unexplored genres like that of graphic performative text – the challenges in making this anthology a reality were many.
Highlights of the ride so far…
But, when you're representing a community that's known for its vibrancy and colour, the journey too is sure to be fascinating. “The anthology has been very well received not only by the LGBTQ community, but by the artist community as well. We've sold over 600 copies in the span of 2 months.” Anuja recounts. Not surprisingly, the anthology is already going places far and wide. She continues, “We've shipped the zine to USA, UK, New Zealand, Australia, Sweden, Denmark, UAE, Thailand, and even been a part of a zine festival in Bangkok! What's more exciting is that a lot of colleges have purchased copies of the magazine for their library!”
Apart from the zine, the Gaysi Family also hosts a series of offline events. The biggest of these is Dirty Talk – an open mic event which provides queer voice a platform to express itself through performances.
Anuja’s personal favourites from the Anthology:
To make matters easier for new readers, we ask Anuja for her personal favorites, although it's not an easy choice. Anuja suggests Going the Solo Route by Soumya Menon and The Case of the Floating Woman by Ravi Adarsh and CG Salamander. Going the Solo Route by Soumya Menon
The fabulous team is now busy with working on the magazine’s next issue!
We’ll be honest, The Queer Graphic Anthology has raised the bar for not just queer content, but graphic publishing in general. This is the graphic anthology you didn’t know you needed. If you haven’t already done so, get your very own copy of the anthology HERE