Maraikappata Pakkangal is an edited compilation of Gopi’s speeches
In 2010, when Gopi Shankar first began to look for material about the LGBTQIA (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual) community, he could not find anything in Tamil.
Gopi had just left the Ramakrishna Mission then, after discovering his sexual orientation, and at 21, began writing. Five years later, the book, Maraikappata Pakkangal (Hidden Pages) has been published by Kizhakku Pathippagam and is now available at the Chennai Book Fair. Sales have started at the book fair and some people have already bought the book, says Badri Seshadri of Kizhakku Pathippagam. Gopi, who is intersex — those born with sex characteristics (including genitals, gonads and chromosome patterns) that do not fit typical binary notions of male or female bodies — identifies as gender queer.
The book, an edited compilation of Gopi’s speeches at educational institutions and conferences, is “like a Tamil encyclopaedia on LGBTQIA issues,” says the 26-year-old from Madurai.
Gopi initially attempted a print on demand publishing process of the book through Srishti, a student collective he began. But, this did not work out. The book, Gopi explains, is like a textbook — the first part is informative and explains gender identities and sexual orientations while the next is a scientific, sociological, psychoanalytical, religious and political take on these issues.
“The book also has regional terms for all gender identities and sexual orientations. It is not an authoritative text at all — it is merely an attempt to initiate a dialogue and open a space for discourse in Tamil on these issues,” says Gopi.
“The book is a great step as there is hardly anything about the LGBTQIA community in Indian languages and even in English there is not too much,” says Anjali Gopalan, founder, the Naz Foundation (India) Trust.