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All That We Want - The Gaysi Zine

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The fifth edition of The Gaysi Zine embarks on a journey to explore the unchartered realm of queer desires, and does so, with effortless grit. What are our desires? How do we discover them? And how do they drive and shape our lives, and more importantly, who we are today? These are just some of the questions that the gripping, beautifully illustrated zine sets out to answer. 'This issue of the zine is a conscious acknowledgement and expression of our queer desires. It aims to talk about desire and experience through the experience of others, and give it a voice in a space where our desires have been declared illegal. We legitimise that which has been illegitimised by giving it a continuum of expression,’ says Priya Gangwani, the editor of The Gaysi Zine. The multilayered narrative unfolds through fiction, non-fiction, visual stories, memoirs, photo essays, poetry and graphic how-to guides. 

Desiderata by Anar-e-Sistanem is a stirring account of uncovering and quenching her desires, only to realize that it was a realm, where at every turn of the road lay a new discovery. Aindri Chakrabarty’s graphic story is an enquiry into how make-up transforms us and how sometimes, the act of prettying up leaves us so baffled. Dhrubo Jyoti’s Never Lost, Never Found paints his story – that of being 27, fat, lower caste, queer and filled with desires that took him a long time to understand. At its very core, this zine is about unraveling the things that move us and shape us, queer or not. It is a celebration of everything that makes us human. But most importantly, it marks the beginnings of the kind of radical, alternative and fiercely intimate literature that India desperately needs more of. A couple of lines penned by Anar-e-Sistanem stay with me, long after I’ve flipped to the last page. ‘I desire frenzy and peace. I desire the quotidian and the celebratory. I desire sex and love. I desire to be owned and liberated. I desire the sacred and the profane. I desire the US and the I. I desire to lead and to be lead. I desire strength and vulnerability. I desire to run and walk. I desire to burn and to be burnt. What is most difficult is I crave for all of this, all at the same time.’ Don’t we all?

I connect with the editor and the designer of the zine and they take me through the little nuances that shaped All That We Want. In conversation with Priya Gangwani and Karishma Dorai. 

The previous issues were a larger exploration of narratives spanning queer culture. What shaped the thematic approach to this edition?
PG: We always wanted to try a theme-based issue for it sincerely creates a space to explore the many complex layers that makes up people, societies, and it’s sub-cultures. Reflecting back on the previous four issues, we realized that all of us have grown as individuals and as a community. It seemed that we were ready to look carefully at the integral aspects of queer lives. We thought that if we paid attention, and only merely focused on that one aspect, we might touch upon a golden lantern. And that is how the subject of desire for this issue came about. Our desires are what separate us from others. At the same time, we all desire despite being told not to.

KD: The last four issues brought together various stories under each, in a manner similar to how we have run the Gaysi blog for the last eight years. The blog started off as a space for stories, both personal and collective, and the zine became an offline expression of that premise, as we imagined print as more permeable than digital in our country and beyond, even with rapid digital adaptation. It had this sense of permanence, no matter the narrative.

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