Rainbow Boys and Rainbow girls:
Wriiten by Kamla Bhasin
Rainbow Boys and Rainbow Girls are two books written for children. The book speaks about the boys and girls as subjects and how all the children are unique and different. It focuses on the behaviour and preferences in varied forms, it is not only tries to educate the children that they can be different from one other, but also tells the adullts about the heternonormative male and female bodies and sexual behaviour.
“Do you think all girls are the same? Do you think all boys are alike? Do all girls look the same? Do all boys dress the same way? No, every child is an individual.”
The books came out in a set of 2 as Rainbow Boys and Rainboy girls because gender is considered to be the main spectrum. From the minute of birth, every child is identified by their gender. A lot of speculations were made online that the sequel for this book might even come out as Rainbow Children pertaining to the existence of Non Binary.
Rainbow Boys and Rainbow Girls are the first children’s book that attempted to openly talks about gender.
Written by Pramesh Shahani
Pramesh Shahni was pursuing his masters in Comparative Media Studies in MIT and his thesis about Gay life in India became the first ethnography of gay life in India. His thesis speaks about how gay men explore their sexuality and accept their identities.
The book was published as a special edition in 2008. The book contained the information of those who were gay in India and how they overcame their nuances. Why Pramesh Shahni’s thesis became a strong influence in the Queer community is because it was the first attempt to study the chart of growth and change in the gay community. Pramesh made it a point to explain every single detail extensively making it suitable for the global audience.
In this book he mentiones that coming out as queer is not equivalent to the freedom of their sexuality as it is longway for homosexuals. He points out the nunances through examples of men in his life who are exploring their sexualities after coming out. He also talks about the reportage of gay issues across print, electronic and radio and its effect on the members. He also mentions about the role of internet and how it plays an important role in one’s life to explore their sexuality with a certain sense of freedom and anonymity.
In the book, he has spoken about the differences about being a Homosexual in western countries and India. It speaks about how one’s sexuality is emotionally tied to family’s acceptance. He points out that diverse opinions and stereotypes of the community in a homophobic land, it is very hard that one has to fight for even a small part of freedom and rights for their ‘own personal choice.’
Pramesh Shahani in the book talks about the different ideas, thoughts and suggests that how one could plan their future after coming out. The book ends on a positive note while he recounts instances of inclusivity and acceptance, leaving the readers with the suggestion that a better society is a possibility.
Memory of Light:
Written by Ruth Vanita
Ruth Vanita is an academician and author who advocates for women’s movements in India. She has an understanding of lesbian and gay studies, gender and sexuality and has contributed to the LGBTQ community in the field of literature and media through her works.
Ruth has written multiple books that speaks about women’s relationship. Her book Love’s Rite: Same-Sex Marriage in India and the West was published in 2005. The book has been instrumental in shedding light on what it means to be in same-sex relationships. She published another book in 2012 called Gender, Sex and the City: Urdu Rekhti Poetry in India 1780-1870. This book explores “a pre-colonial society that was modern and urban, but was more open to pleasure, to play, to different types of romantic relationships and friendships than colonial and post-colonial Indian societies.”
The Memory of Light is a book that takes us to the 18th century to understand how relationship between two courtesans unfolds. The book is about the fictional love story during the Nawab era in Lucknow. The story is about two women who find each other among the vibrant city of artists and discover the youthful romance that exists between them.
Here is a line from the book that will tell you how their relationship was expressed and portrayed as:
“Here, let me try something different with your hair.’ She came up behind me and began to rebraid it. Any number of girls had braided my hair and I theirs but never had I felt their touch burn through me and reach ears, lips, eyelids, fingertips.”
Nafis bai and Chapla bai work as courtesans and are preparing for the 50th birthday celebration of King George III. When preparations are at full swing, Nafis bai leaves her home to consult about something to the Paris where she encounters Chapla bai. It was love at first sight when their eyes met. Soon a passionate love affair develops between the two. As every other relationship, this relationship also has issues prone to jealousy, insecurity and distance.
Through the story, it is revealed that the pre-colonial era was open about same-sex relationship. Ruth said that she wanted to explore how a lesbian relationship would have unfolded in the prejudiced Indian past. She stated that the acceptance of Nafis bai and Chapla bai by other men and women patrons seemed like an attitude that was completely in contrast to the mindset of post-colonial society.
“Pre-colonial Indian societies were mostly not homophobic (didn’t hate, fear or kill people for same-sex relations) but they were heterosexist (gave primacy to male-female relationships),” she said.
In an interview Ruth said, “As long as most people got married and had children, several could have very close same-sex relationships, of which some could be romantic or sexual. Men, in particular, could also play around with both women and men. Courtesans were sexually freer than other women. Domestic women could have more or less hidden relationships with relatives or friends.”