Books: Where is the joy in queer literature?

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Here’s a peculiarity that I have noticed in the literature over the years: Whenever I searched for a gay-themed novel, despite all of its wonderful prose, emotionally turbulent history, and often provocative or even sometimes even sex scenes. satirical, it left me crushed in the end. . I would be hopeless, a lot of misery, cries of tears to follow. Because it always ended really, really sadly. No happy ending, sorry. It was as if hoping otherwise was really wishful thinking.

Take the case of literary heavyweight Edmund White who is considered the Big Daddy of gay literature. One of his first novels that I read, Married man, is a heartbreaking love story that crosses continents. It is touching and endearing, but ultimately ends with much grief and under the shadow of AIDS.

The epic story of playwright and activist Larry Kramer queers was perhaps one of the first real-life gay novels that sparked an international scandal with its enraged carousel through the notorious 1970s New York Baths and Fire Island parties, where a man’s search for love ends – you guessed it – miserably. Even Alan Hollinghurst’s novel The beauty line, a scathing look at class, sexuality and politics in England from Margaret Thatcher, the first gay novel to win the Booker Prize in 36 years of history, ends in a tension of boredom.

Closer to home, novels like The boyfriend by R Raj ​​Rao, who is a brutal exploration of class inequality in Mumbai and how it affects the life of a gay man, has a sad hopelessness at his heart, while being written with bare frankness that rarely seen in Indian literature.

Farhad J Dadyburjor is editor and author of The Other Man (above) which is coming out this month.

Happiness also exists

While it is undeniable that all of these novels have an important role to play in the pantheon of queer literature and that their stories are important, legitimate and need to be told, one wonders why they always end up in pessimism. The underlying subliminal message always seems to be that if you are gay, sad things will happen to you.

So the question is, why can’t we celebrate queer joy? Why don’t we see more queer novels that are cheerful, uplifting, empowering, and filling the reader with hope? It ends on a happy note. After all, isn’t that the reason (at the beginning at least) for looking for a story on the theme of homosexuals: to be carried by hope, to have a positive understanding of oneself, to feel empowered, even if the Can our real life situations be difficult? , whether it is disclosure to one’s parents, a relationship with a same-sex partner, not falling into the trap of an arranged marriage or whatever?

Being queer is not a tragedy, as these novels often seem to suggest. In fact, we see so many happy unions where same-sex couples have found true love, settled down at home, raised children through surrogacy, and enjoy a full family life like anything else. the world around them. In some cases, if the partner is an international citizen, they also got married. So why is literature still slow to reflect this wonderful side of queer life?

This has been a cornerstone for me while writing my recent novel, The other man, which is a heartwarming and heartwarming story of two men in love. Hopefully, this opens the door for many more celebrations of queer joy in literature in the months to come, because if there’s anything the past 18 months have taught us, it’s that we all deserve. a happy future.

Farhad J Dadyburjor is editor and author of The Other Man, which is coming out this month.

From Brunch HT, October 24, 2021

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