Society

Discover real-life stories of queer love from across India

On a cruise ship. In a school playground. By a hospital bed. Over WhatsApp. Love can happen anywhere, between anyone, and over 90 stories at the Museum of Queer Swipe Stories hope to capture this wonderful ordinariness of the world’s oldest feeling.

For the past year, a project by Gaysi Family, an online forum for the Indian LGBTQIA community, and Tinder, has been seeking out and featuring stories of everyday love between queer desis: the happy endings, breakups, the friendships without tags, and everything in between. Recently, they moved from their regular picture-with-text content, to an animated short that tells the story of young love born under a pandemic, featuring Gaysi art director, Priya Dali.

A still from Queer Swipe Stories’ recent animated short

A still from Queer Swipe Stories’ recent animated short  

“We have so far received 800 stories through the Google form on our account, and we release two or three of them each week,” says Sakshi Juneja, co-founder of Gaysi Family. Each story featured is titled in variations of ‘The One where…’, an episode-naming formula familiar to viewers of popular TV series, F.R.I.E.N.D.S.

So in ‘The One Where Her Scent Would Not Leave Me’, Umanga, a queer woman writes about how the first thing she noticed and remembered about her now-fiancee, was her scent during hockey practice in school, 13 years ago. In ‘The One Where We Signed An Intimacy Contract’, Dhiti, a queer transboy shares how the couple circumvented a shared cynicism in the institution of marriage by signing a personal contract in Candies, Bandra, in the presence of their friends.

Discover real-life stories of queer love from across India

Sakshi hopes that Queer Swipe Stories will bring forth a clearer picture of queer dating in India. “We have been exposed to so many different narratives through pop culture, which is also dominated by a minority within this minority: you have stories of cis-gay men, or a few hijra stories that see the light of the day,” says Sakshi, adding that one of the main reasons behind the genesis of Gaysi Family was to develop a safe space for LBT non-binary people. “Even the representation that does exist is generally from a lens of political movements, but not from an intimate space. We wanted to show how they navigate personal relationships,” she adds.

Discover real-life stories of queer love from across India

Queer Swipe Stories also brings to notice the different intersectionalities at play: the couples are from different religions or castes, from small towns and big cities like Lucknow, Bhopal, Mumbai, Vancouver, Zurich and more.

The stories that come in need not fit any narrative, Sakshi emphasises: couples could have met anywhere, over any app or in real life, and the relationships need not be defined. “Queer narratives have only come to the forefront in the last couple of years, so we have so much more space to fill. No matter how much we put out, it will always be less,” she says.

This is a whole different time from when Sakshi co-founded Gaysi, which completes 12 years on November 27: “We started at a time when I knew maybe five queer women in Mumbai. And now, if we have an event, over 800 show up and over 600 would be from the LBT non-binary space.”

“People are sharing their stories, their real identities, their photographs with the world at large, without pseudonyms, and are proud about it. That’s my takeaway from Queer Swipe Stories,” she says.

Have a story to share? Visit @queerswipestories on Instagram

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Printable version | Jan 23, 2021 4:19:07 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/society/queer-swipe-stories-from-india-by-gaysi-family-and-tinder/article33160885.ece

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