Celebrating Pride Month: 8 Super Interesting Books You Must Read That Revolve Around LGBTQ Themes


As of last year, homosexuality is no longer a crime in India. However, in literature, homosexuality has not been a crime for a long time. A lot of authors have explored the theme of homosexuality in their works of fiction and some have even come out and talked about their own sexuality in their books. So if you’re looking for some good Indian literature dealing with queer themes, we have got you covered. Here is a list of books that celebrate same-sex love and the LGBTQ+ community! While some are works of fiction and others are researched-based books and autobiographies; however, they all spark a conversation around sexuality and gender identity in India. Read on to know more.

1. She of the Mountains – Vivek Shraya

Image Source: Wink Books

This book beautifully interweaves the story of a queer Hindu boy growing up in Canada with that of the Hindu deities, Parvati, Shiva and Ganesh. The narrative talks about how difficult it can be for a person who is not free to be the sexuality or gender they identify with. This book is must-read because it sheds light on bisexuality which is so rarely represented in India.

Get your copy here.

2. Me Hijra, Me Laxmi – Laxmi Narayan Tripathi

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An autobiography of the transgender’s rights activist Laxmi Narayan Tripathi, this book narrates her ordeal of becoming a Hijra by choice. In an interview with DNA, Laxmi said, “The book is about my life. It has everything from the numerous love affairs I have had to find solace in Mumbai’s bars. From mental and physical abuse to finding a life of grace, dignity and fame, it is about Laxmi, a person who recognises herself as a hijra at present proudly.” This one is worth a read to get an insight into the life of a proud transgender person.

3. Loving Women: Being Lesbian in Underprivileged India – Maya Sharma

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This book by Maya Sharma documents the stories often working-class queer women living in India. In doing so it busts the myth that lesbians in India are all urban, westernized and come from upper and middle classes. This book serves to create a space for voices with little or no privilege. Read this book to know more about the lived realities of these working-class queer women.

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4. The Pregnant King – Devdutt Pattanaik

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For anyone who still thinks homosexuality is not a part of Indian culture, this is the book you should be reading. The Pregnant King by Devdatt Pattanaik who is known for his work in mythology and interpretations of ancient Indian scriptures infuses a contemporary twist to something that is centuries old. With stories about a king who drinks a magic potion meant for his queens and becomes pregnant; a woman who cannot become king because she is a woman; a daughter who is brought up as a son and fathers a child of her own with a borrowed penis; a man who gives up his genitals so he could become a wife; and many more, this book is going to change your perspective about homosexuality in India. For those interested, you must also pick up Devdatt Pattanaik’s book Shikhandi and other queer tales they didn’t tell you. 

Get your copy here.

5. Criminal Love?: Queer Theory, Culture and Politics in India

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There is no one better than R Raj Rao, India’s leading gay rights activist and a man who is himself openly gay, to write about the LGBTQ scene in India. In this book, he gives a vivid description of LGBTQ life in India. You’ll get an insight on how non-sexual same-sex friendship and intimacy both create a cover for sexual minorities and reinforce the overt straightness of public spaces. And there’s an amusing chapter on how surveys of Indian literature, carefully stayed mum on same-sex themes. If you enjoy this one, you should also pick up his fiction book The Boyfriend which explores a same-sex relationship between two men.

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6. Funny Boy – Shyam Selvadurai

Image Source: Penguin Books Australia

Funny Boy is the story of Arjie, a young Tamil boy growing up in Colombo. Set in Sri Lanka, it features the war between the army and the Tamil Tigers, a war that somehow strongly affects every Sri Lankan’s life. Arjie, who is slowly dealing with the fact that he is only now realising what made him different from the other boys has to deal with the fact that his homosexuality is considered weak, funny, and wrong. This book beautifully captures Arjie’s emotions. We urge you to give this one your time to understand what life is like through the eyes of a young homosexual boy.

Get your copy here.

7. Same-Sex Love in India – Ruth Vanita and Saleem Kidwai

Image Source: Good Reads

If Indian LGBTQ history intrigues you, this is the book you should be reaching for! This handy and comprehensive guide testifies to the presence of same-sex love in various forms since ancient times. It is a collection of essays that lays out evidence of same-sex desire and gender non-conformity across centuries of Indian history, showing us that queer identities have always existed in India.

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8. The Scent of God – Saikat Majumdar

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Saikat Majumdar’s book The Scent of God raises some uncomfortable questions about life. While we all know what is forbidden, this book talks about why it’s forbidden. This book is the story of Anirvan, who discovers the beauty of meditation and monastic life at an all-boys school. Anirvan often called Yogi in his meditative state, is mesmerized by the sensual aspects of monastic life, the hymns, the smell of incense, the flowers, the colour saffron, and also the soothing touch of his classmate Kajol. Pick this up to get a better understanding of Anirvan’s feelings.

Get your copy here.


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