Creating safe spaces for LGBTI: Behind Gaylaxy Magazine, India
Like in many former British colonies across Asia, LGBTI people living in India have had to grapple with archaic laws criminalising homosexuality, unsympathetic and ignorant authorities as well as the challenges of living on the margins in the world's largest democracy. This week, we take a peek at the efforts of Sachin and Sukhdeep of Gaylaxy Magazine and their efforts to create an online safe space for LGBTI people in India.
About Gaylaxy Magazine
Sukhdeep Singh started the magazine in 2010, when he was still studying in college. He felt there was an urgent need for the LGBT Indian community to have a platform to express themselves and so with the help of a few friends, Gaylaxy Magazine was founded.
After the Indian Supreme Court's decision effectively re-criminalizing LGBTIQ citizens in December 2013, a dedicated Hindi section of Gaylaxy Magazine was created with an inaugural issue of 8 articles. Sachin Jain joined forces with Sukhdeep as he wanted to positively and constructively channelize his anger and frustration at Justice Singhvi's disparaging description of the community as "a minuscule minority with so called rights", rooted in the misconception that the indigenous queer movement is an elitist product of Westernization, liberalization and globalization.
Today, Gaylaxy Magazine has grown into an essential medium for people to keep themselves abridged of the latest developments on queer issues in India and abroad, and of the various events that happen in the country.
Gaylaxy Hindi has published a total of 185 works by 53 contributors since January 1, 2014. The magazine has published an Indo-Pak gay love story called 'Zero Line' by a queer writer Hadi Hussain Bhatt from Lahore, working in Hindi and Urdu over WhatsApp audio to make it possible; reporting on issues and achievements of both Pakistani and Bangladeshi LGBTIQ movements, development of relationships based on trust with closeted individuals in the heartland and encouraging them to express themselves. One of the magazine's most sad yet cherished interviews was with Xulhaz Manan, just a couple of days before he lost his life to extremists in Bangladesh. In 2015 Sachin was invited to speak about our work with Gaylaxy Hindi at the Queer Asia Conference at the Society of Oriental and African Studies in London. In 2016, his article on Hindi queer writing, "(Not) His Master's Voice" was also published in an anthology about Indian urban queer spaces called "Queer Potli".
Searching for a safe space in Mumbai or Bangalore?
Good As You [Bangalore] is a support group that meets every Thursday evening. Check out their website for more information!
GayBombay [Mumbai] is a safe space for LGBTI people living in Mumbai. See their website here.
GHAR [Mumbai] assists LGBTI people in Mumbai with housing and related needs.
Humsafar Trust [Mumbai] provides counselling and information on HIV prevention as well as youth outreach. See their website here.
About the editors
Sukhdeep Singh started the magazine in 2010, while still in college, out of an urgent need to develop a platform for the LGBT Indian community to express themselves. He currently works with an MNC full-time, and runs the magazine after office hours.
Apart from his work with Galyaxy Hindi, Sachin Jain is also the founder of Gay Housing Assistance Resource (GHAR), a pan-Indian queer accommodation bulletin board, and a core member of GayBombay, a gay support organization. He teaches Spanish at an international school in Mumbai.