India Now Has Seven Magazines on Gay Issues

By Rohit Vaid

New Delhi, Aug 8 (IANS) After a far-reaching judgment on homosexuality last year, India's publishing world is abuzz with as many as seven magazines on issues of interest and concern to the gay community, with topics ranging from glamour to safe sex.

Some of these magazines may be in the form of e-zines, but their popularity - going by the number of downloads each of them claims - is making their publishers also look at the possibility of print editions in the near future.

All, nevertheless, say it is thanks to the Delhi High Court judgement July 2 last year, which decriminalised gay sex among two consenting adults and not only raised awareness about this community but also helped them speak about themselves.

"This shows a growing confidence and optimism in the Indian queer community and the need for expression of the younger generation," says Ranjit Monga, 46, a media consultant and documentary filmmaker, commenting on the rise in the number of queer magazines.

The newest entrant in the magazine space dealing with gay rights and issues is Manvendra Singh Gohil, the erstwhile prince of Rajpipla in Gujarat and a self-confessed queer, who has launched a publication called Fun.

"There was a need to highlight the issues faced by the community, which the mainstream media did not address adequately. I also wanted to connect more with my community. Then I thought this medium would be the best to reach out," Gohil told IANS.

Gohil, nevertheless, was quick to add that entry into this niche segment of magazines was not necessarily for gay activism, reasoning out the rationale for choosing the name for his publication. There are others named Bombay Dost, Jiah, Gaylaxy and Trikone.

"My magazine covers everything from gizmos to glamour - the real life coming-out-of-the-closet kind of stories, health, relationships. It is a complete lifestyle magazine that will interest all, not just gay men, lesbians, bis, transgenders," says Gohil.

Says Udayan, 23, editor of PinkPages India, who uses only one name: "Our readership is well spread across India; so are its contributors. It's a truly national magazine. I will soon launch a print edition."

His magazine too, he says, covers the whole gamut of issues from politics to activism and lifestyle as does Pune Queer Chronicle, promoted by Keith, which seeks to erase the sterotypes that, he claims, are often associated with queers.

"We are also part of this society. So when we come out with magazines like these, they tell readers what the community is about, what it thinks, what it likes, what it wants, how it connects -- all this eliminates confusion and wrong perceptions," says Keith.

At the same time, he adds, it also covers a lot of specific issues helpful for the gay community with columns like ask the doctor and articles on topics such as investments, health, adoption and psychology, especially targeted at young people.

Monga, who was also a journalist with a wire service and a TV channel earlier, says all these are a reflection of the natural and growing desire that crops up once you have the freedom to come out of the closet.

"That's why you have seven magazines. There is tremendous interest in the gay community. It is becoming more aware. It goes on to show that the community wants to showcase itself as distinct groups with own identities, desires, needs, wants."


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