#Art + Culture

Queer Publishing House Gets Its First Stall At Chennai Book Fair

Queer Publishing House at Chennai Book Fair
For the first time in the history of the annual Chennai Book Fair, the queer community has gotten its own stall. Stall no. 28 in the 46th Chennai Book Fair is vibrant, revolutionary, and soulful. This is the first time Queer Publishing House, a publication by and for queer people, has gained a stall at the book fair, which houses over 1000 stalls. This is a very proud moment for the entire queer community.

The entrance of the stall is decorated with a Buddha statue holding the Queer Publishing House logo. The walls are adorned with wall hangings representing the pride flag, and the ceiling is festooned with fabrics of the queer flag.

Queer Publishing House

Trans activist and writer Grace Banu is the founder and director of Trans Rights Now Collective. The organisation has over 70 transmen and transwomen across India. When Grace Banu wrote her first book, Talks of Grace Banu, she had to face a lot of rejection and discrimination in her quest to get her book published. So she finally published it herself in 2019.

During a conversation with the arts and culture wing of her organisation last year, she discovered that some members of her community aspired to write. So Grace Banu decided to start her own publishing house so that her people don’t have to go through the agonising discrimination that she faced when she was trying to get her book published. And that is how Queer Publishing House happened. The publication aims to publish the literary works of the queer community.

Queer Publishing House at Chennai Book Fair

Over the last few years, Grace Banu and her team have been trying to get their books showcased at various stalls in the book fair but have only faced rejections. So when the Booksellers and Publishers Association of South India (BAPASI) announced the annual Chennai book fair, they immediately decided to get their own stall and house books by queer writers.

“It was definitely not easy to obtain this stall. We had to walk back and forth to the organisers’ office. Initially, we were only allotted a rack, but through perseverance, we managed to get our own stall,” says the stall’s proprietor, Negha.

“We have not been given any special reservation and have followed the same procedure to obtain this stall,” she adds.

Negha is a transwoman, writer, and actor. She is the first transwoman to have won the Kerala State Film Award last year for her performance in the Malayalam film Antharam.

Queer Publishing House has started off with three books in Tamil. Ennil Irundhu Paar by transman Arun Karthick, Oru Kalaiyin Kavidhaigal, a set of poems by transwoman Ajitha, and RIP by transwoman, actor, and writer Negha.

The Queer Publishing bookstall is housing 50 books in Tamil, Malayalam, and English. All these books are about and written by the LGBTQIA community. The collection includes We are not the others by Kalki Subramaniam, Vellai Mozhi by A Revathi, I am Vidya by Living Smile Vidya, and so on.

A few days back, Grace Banu took to her social media handle to talk about the transphobic and casteist treatment they were facing at the book fair. “The issue has now been resolved, and the stall is doing really well now. We’re delighted that people are purchasing from us. This is a positive sign that society is becoming more inclusive towards the queer community, and we are very happy,” concludes Negha.

The Trans Right Now Collective works for the special reservation of transpeople in education, employment, and politics. The organisation is aiming to establish its wings across the nation soon.

Suggested Reading: Who Is Grace Banu? First Recipient Of Tamil Nadu Govt Award For Transgender People

Credits for the feature image: Arun Karthick (Member of Trans Rights now Collective)

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