Facing the Mirror: Lesbian Writing From India


Ashwini Sukthankar (ed)


Paperback 9780143448570



A groundbreaking book where lesbians found their voice for the first time



For decades, most lesbians in India did not know the extent of their presence in the country: networks barely existed and the love they had for other women was a shameful secret to be buried deep within the heart. In Facing the Mirror, Ashwini Sukthankar collected hidden, forgotten, distorted, triumphant stories from across India, revealing the richness and diversity of the lesbian experience for the first time. Going back as far as the 1960s and through the forms of fiction and poetry, essays and personal history, this rare collection mapped a hitherto unknown trajectory.


In celebration of the Supreme Court’s reading down of the draconian Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, this twentieth-anniversary edition, with a foreword by author and activist Shals Mahajan, brings to readers a remarkable history that illuminates the blood and the tears, the beauty and the magic of the queer movement in India. The raw anger and passion in them still alive, the writings in Facing the Mirror proudly proclaim the courage, the sensuality, the humour and the vulnerability of being lesbian.




Facing the Mirror bravely eschews and shatters all possible stereotypes…[It] throws up a ferris wheel of voices, a pathbreaking beginning for lesbian literature in India…lesbian realities are reflected here in all their myriad configurations, denying neither its prurience nor its chaste tenderness…Facing the Mirror is a courageous and exhaustive articulation of invisible lives, a pathbreaking beginning for lesbian literature in India’ – Outlook


‘[Facing the Mirror ranges from] personal experiences to purely fictional expressions of the woes of being a woman in [this] world’ – Gaysi


‘This collection is something of a milestone, dealing with the experience of Indian lesbians across caste, religion and to some extent class and region, too’ – New Internationalist


Facing the Mirror is a compilation of stories, poems, essays and personal histories – some of them very explicit…the 77 contributors included a Haryanvi housewife, a Mumbai domestic worker, professionals, activists. The book belongs to these women who put their thoughts and lives on scraps of paper or tape’ – India Today

Additional Information

Edited by Ashwini Sukthankar
Foreword by Shals Mahajan

Published by

Penguin India





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