Dear friends, comrades and fellow queers,With steadily increasing consistency, we are back, bringing you yet another issue of our queer zine SCRIPTS. This, the 9th issue, is a sort of milestone as we will now ascend into a double-digited existence, having already marked a decade of ourselves as LABIA/ Stree Sangam a couple of issues ago (No. 7, June 2005).
Let us quote from our call for submissions to remind us where this one began:
This time it’s going to be all about hair.
And each of you is invited to share with our readers, in whatever style and length you fancy, your brushes and tangles with the everyday business of hair – its politics, its semiotics and of course its erotics.
Why hair? Because its roots go deep into our collective psyche, not to speak of individual skins. To cut or grow, to wax or shave or trim or not, to choose from the images and constructs offered to us or to challenge these as stereotypes: these hair-raising dilemmas can sometimes be difficult to resolve. Nor does every hairy diktat stem from the straight world; there is a fair amount of hair conditioning, surely, that we imbibe from one another as well.
Let’s not split hairs: let’s call a razor a razor and an upper lip growth a moochh. Not enough to twirl in a parody of machismo, but adequate to pose the question: with my queer, feminist, postmodern identity, what’s the best hair policy for me? Or even to question if that is indeed the question.
There’s hair and there’s hair. Don’t harm a single hair on my beloved’s head, but don’t spare the smallest bristle on her chin. And what about the rest of the body? Under the arms? Down there? Does it inspire me enough to write an ode to it, or would I rather express my feelings in other, more visual—or tactile—ways?
So all you desi rapunzels as well as those waiting under window sills across this queer country we inhabit, let down your hair or attach yourself to its silken ropes and pull yourself up, each according to her heart’s desire, and tell us through your drawings, poems, cartoons, anecdotes, essays or stories about your own good and bad hair moments, your closest shaves and your most hair-centric fallacies and fantasies.
And you, dear readers, friends, and wonderful LBT women from various parts of the world, have responded to our call, and in what way! We have a fascinating range of stories, verses, essays, reminiscences, monologues, drawings, photographs, and such manifestations on or centred around the crowning glory. They take us through a flight of emotions and thought with their humorous, poignant, zippy, zany, romantic, tongue-in-cheek and other versions of hair display and depiction. Several of them are autobiographical, tracing childhood memories, relationships with selves, relationships with lovers, mothers, daughters, and others, portraying a sense of existence, and evolution of the self in relation to this hairy growth.
When we had decided on this issue, we had an inkling of how important the issue of hair is in our gender performances and perceptions of our bodies and selves. Hair is an extremely personal political issue (or the other way around) and the pieces you sent us, speak of this eloquently. They reflect in a way, the diversity and plurality of our selves, our existences, caught in sorrow and horror, tragedy and timelessness, as we bring you the issue from testing and troubled times in Bombay.
Since our last issue on the theme of love letters, much has happened amidst us. Even as we continue to affirm our existence as a Lesbian Bisexual Trans-persons collective and as feminists, our struggles and challenges remain or acquire newer forms. We have been diligently participating in the organizing and preparation of the next conference of Women’s Movements in India for the last several years and finally it is all coming together. The Seventh National Conference of Women’s Movements on the theme Towards a Politics of Justice: Affirming Diversities, Resisting Divisiveness is very much on (September 9 to 12, 2006 at Kolkatta) and do look for the invite in this issue and book your tickets!
At the conference, LABIA and SAPPHO will be coordinating a day long parallel session on Marginalized Genders and Sexualities. This will be followed by a workshop on questioning gender, smaller meetings for queer and questioning women, and other spaces for sharing of queer experiences and expressions. As a feminist queer collective, we cherish this space within the autonomous feminist movement which is invaluable in extending our struggles as LBT women and people highlighting our diversity, invisibility and marginalisation.
Our support to the bar dancers’ struggle to retain their jobs as dancers in bars continues. A preliminary victory was won when the Bombay High Court declared the Maharashtra government’s arbitrary ban on women dancing in the beer bars as unconstitutional. However, the State has now appealed in the Supreme Court and obtained a stay on the re-opening of the dance bars. Women have been pushed into vulnerable situations that don’t give them a space for negotiation with clients, while the police continue their vicious harassment. Besides this issue, we have also been part of the Sexual Assault Bill and the Immoral Traffic Prevention Act consultations for amendments along with other groups and collectives.
Amidst all these struggles around desires, livelihoods, and freedoms, we bring you this collection of fascinating pieces of art and wordsmithery, in this volume of creative expressions in English, Hindi and Marathi. This issue also marks our success and continuing strength as an editorial collective that becomes an expanding and enriching experience every time a zine is ready to be born. We wish you a fulfilling time reading as well and hope to receive your responses at email@example.com.
Here’s looking forward to better times till dykedom comes and beyond!
Meena, Smriti and Shalini(for the editorial team.)