Announcing Chennai Queer LitFest 2021 Live

Queer Chennai Chronicles is delighted to announce the fourth annual Chennai Queer LitFest between 18th to 24th September 2021. First held in 2018, the festival was conceptualised to highlight the diverse LGBTQIA+ literature and the narratives that are often missed. 

The first two years of the festival was hosted at the Kavikko convention center in Chennai. In 2020, we hosted the festival online as we were all coping up with the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic. The second wave further isolated us from our communities and friends. Our safe spaces, social circles and pride events shrunk. The uncertainty still looms over us.

It has been more than a year for many queer persons to have been in an in-person pride event. But things aren’t all gloomy. The appointment of the Padma Shri awardee and Kalaimamani recipient Dr Narthaki Nataraj as a member of the Tamil Nadu State Development Policy Council (SDPC) has given the long overdue representation to the community. This year’s inaugural and keynote speech will be delivered by Dr Narthaki Nataraj.

The conversation this year will also focus on the Oral History of Tamil speaking Trans women community from India and the diaspora. Oral history is an indispensable part of any community, especially communities that are historically marginalised. The session will be led by writer and vlogger Thanuja Singam with author, theatre artist A Revathi and Suryani Mahmood from Malaysia who currently resides in Germany. The focus will also be on storytelling. Theatre artist, Living Smile Vidya will be in a conversation with actor and writer Shoba Shakthi related to the queerness in his writings and in Tamil literature in general. A discussion with author Sindhu Rajasekaran and independent filmmaker Divya Barathi will focus on gender and sexuality in their medium of storytelling. 

The recent Madras High Court guidelines in support of the queer community has given us reasons to rejoice. The direction regarding insensitive media reporting on issues related to queer persons is a welcome move. The premiere year of the Queer LitFest in 2018 had a session on media representation and this is an ongoing discussion as media plays an important role in highlighting our issues and lives. As a next step, this year there will be a discussion on best practices in media reporting. Ragamalika Karthikeyan, Editor – Special Projects & Experiments at The News Minute and Ranjitha Gunasekaran, Assistant Resident Editor, Tamil Nadu at The New Indian Express will share best practises and thoughts on inclusive media reporting. 

For any movement to have traction, it is important to have social and personal spaces for the community to come together. Even if the pandemic has shrunk our meagre spaces in the physical world, the innovation of new technologies enable us to come together and enable community bonding during the pandemic irrespective of geographical location. We will discuss about creating spaces and how it has impacted the community during these times. A discussion on queer terminologies and fan fiction are in the pipeline for this year. 

The overall theme for this year is “ஓங்கி ஒலிக்கும் குரல்கள்”. Like last year, this year the LitFest will be organised online. Unlike last year, there won’t be video streaming. We all have online meeting fatigue and being the dreamers who dare to experiment; this year the festival will be an audio only affair. The focus is to be solely on our voices. The voices that refuse to back down and be unheard. At the same time, we are also aware that this medium is not fully accessible for people who are deaf or hard of hearing. While Closed Captioning works better for conversations in English, we take this opportunity to request Twitter to provide a better experience in Closed Captioning for conversations in Tamil as well.

The fourth annual Chennai Queer LitFest 2021 Live will be held on Twitter #TamilSpaces from 18th to 24th September 2021. The session timings, the complete speaker details, and more information related to the festival will be released in the days leading the to the Queer LitFest.