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12 LGBT Stories By Indian Authors That Everyone Should Read

Add some diversity to your reading list.

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1. Lihaaf by Ismat Chughtai

Why you should read it: Though this is technically a short story, it’s still one of the most significant (and controversial) works of lesbian fiction to emerge out of Indian literature. It documents the relationship between an unhappily married begum and her female companion in 19th century Lucknow, and is sneaky enough to never make things explicit despite the very obvious homoeroticism.
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Why you should read it: Though this is technically a short story, it’s still one of the most significant (and controversial) works of lesbian fiction to emerge out of Indian literature. It documents the relationship between an unhappily married begum and her female companion in 19th century Lucknow, and is sneaky enough to never make things explicit despite the very obvious homoeroticism.

2. A Friend’s Story (Mitrachi Goshta) by Vijay Tendulkar

Why you should read it: This Marathi play was written in 1981, a time when explicit conversations about same-sex desire were largely taboo. Essentially a love triangle between the shy Ramu, the headstrong Sumitra, and the enigmatic Nama, this is possibly one of the first Indian plays to explore the struggles of coming to terms with one’s own sexuality.
queer-ink.com

Why you should read it: This Marathi play was written in 1981, a time when explicit conversations about same-sex desire were largely taboo. Essentially a love triangle between the shy Ramu, the headstrong Sumitra, and the enigmatic Nama, this is possibly one of the first Indian plays to explore the struggles of coming to terms with one’s own sexuality.

3. The Boyfriend by R. Raj Rao

Why you should read it: This book is a rounded, no-holds-barred plunge into Mumbai’s gay subculture, narrated through a passionate fling between an upscale journalist and a much younger Dalit boy. From deeply relatable portrayals of infatuation and heartbreak to searing critiques of casteism and homophobia, the book truly has it all.
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Why you should read it: This book is a rounded, no-holds-barred plunge into Mumbai’s gay subculture, narrated through a passionate fling between an upscale journalist and a much younger Dalit boy. From deeply relatable portrayals of infatuation and heartbreak to searing critiques of casteism and homophobia, the book truly has it all.

4. Me Hijra, Me Laxmi by Laxmi Narayan Tripathi

Why you should read it: This memoir of transgender activist Laxmi Narayan Tripathi is equal parts emotional and powerful. It charts her journey of coming to terms with her identity, the obstacles she had to face along the way, and her eventual transitioning and activism.
thebetterindia.com

Why you should read it: This memoir of transgender activist Laxmi Narayan Tripathi is equal parts emotional and powerful. It charts her journey of coming to terms with her identity, the obstacles she had to face along the way, and her eventual transitioning and activism.

5. Loving Women: Being Lesbian in Unprivileged India edited by Maya Sharma

Why you should read it: This one-of-its-kind anthology, which consists of ten real-life narratives from various queer working class women from North India, gives us a glimpse into the LGBTQ lives which remain underrepresented in mainstream conversations about sexuality. It also looks at the intersections of caste, class, religion and same-sex desire in some extremely radical ways.
amazon.in

Why you should read it: This one-of-its-kind anthology, which consists of ten real-life narratives from various queer working class women from North India, gives us a glimpse into the LGBTQ lives which remain underrepresented in mainstream conversations about sexuality. It also looks at the intersections of caste, class, religion and same-sex desire in some extremely radical ways.

6. The Pregnant King by Devdutt Pattanaik

Why you should read it: The next time someone tells you Hinduism isn’t LGBT-friendly, hand them this book. Using the story of Yuvashnava, the book delves into the various instances of gender-fluidity and queerness that’s evidenced in Hindu mythology, questioning notions surrounding rigid gender norms.
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Why you should read it: The next time someone tells you Hinduism isn’t LGBT-friendly, hand them this book. Using the story of Yuvashnava, the book delves into the various instances of gender-fluidity and queerness that’s evidenced in Hindu mythology, questioning notions surrounding rigid gender norms.

7. Babyji by Abha Dawesar

Why you should read it: Following the various phases of the protagonist Anamika’s sexual awakening, Babyji is a bold portrait of modern lesbian desire and sexual agency.
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Why you should read it: Following the various phases of the protagonist Anamika’s sexual awakening, Babyji is a bold portrait of modern lesbian desire and sexual agency.

8. Funny Boy by Shyam Selvadurai

Why you should read it: A coming-of-age story revolving around a young Tamil boy growing up in Colombo, this novel looks at six phases from the protagonist’s life to put his homosexuality into larger social contexts, especially that of the Tamil-Sinhalese tensions of the '70s and '80s.
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Why you should read it: A coming-of-age story revolving around a young Tamil boy growing up in Colombo, this novel looks at six phases from the protagonist’s life to put his homosexuality into larger social contexts, especially that of the Tamil-Sinhalese tensions of the '70s and '80s.

9. She of The Mountains by Vivek Shraya

Why you should read it: It interweaves the Hindu mythologies of Parvati, Vishnu and Ganesh with the coming out story of a gay Hindu boy growing up in Canada. It also talks about bisexuality, a subject barely addressed in Indian literature.
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Why you should read it: It interweaves the Hindu mythologies of Parvati, Vishnu and Ganesh with the coming out story of a gay Hindu boy growing up in Canada. It also talks about bisexuality, a subject barely addressed in Indian literature.

10. A Married Woman by Manju Kapur

Why you should read it: The novel is an intimate portrayal of an affair between an unhappily married housewife and a younger widow, looking into themes of loneliness and repressed desire.
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Why you should read it: The novel is an intimate portrayal of an affair between an unhappily married housewife and a younger widow, looking into themes of loneliness and repressed desire.

11. Same-Sex Love In India, edited by Ruth Vanita and Saleem Kidwai

Why you should read it: If you want to know more about Indian LGBTQ history, look no further than this handy and comprehensive guide. This collection of essays lays out evidences of same-sex desire and gender non-conformity across centuries of Indian history, showing us that queer identities have always existed in India.
amazon.in

Why you should read it: If you want to know more about Indian LGBTQ history, look no further than this handy and comprehensive guide. This collection of essays lays out evidences of same-sex desire and gender non-conformity across centuries of Indian history, showing us that queer identities have always existed in India.

12. Close, Too Close: The Tranquebar Book of Queer Erotica, edited by Meenu and Shruti

Why you should read it: A collection of stories featuring various prominent south Asian writers, this anthology comprises a vast range of queer and gender non-conforming experiences in the form of both stories and illustrations.
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Why you should read it: A collection of stories featuring various prominent south Asian writers, this anthology comprises a vast range of queer and gender non-conforming experiences in the form of both stories and illustrations.