Queer as six

This main illustration is a combination of two graphics created with pen ink on art paper, combined and modified with Windows Microsoft Paint software. The combined graphic is rectangular in shape and vertical in orientation. The main part of the combined graphic consists of colourful abstract patterns, somewhat floral in nature, making up about two-thirds of the graphic. To the top left corner of the graphic are simple line drawings of two human faces, next to each other, and partially visible such that the left eye of one is next to the right eye of the other person. The eyes and lips seem to have generous proportions. The eyes have a vacant look as they are drawn without pupils. Most crucially, the faces seem to be gender neutral. To the bottom right corner is a small, square-shaped graphic superimposed on the larger rectangular one. It shows a milestone with “6 years” written on it, symbolizing the sixth foundation day of “Varta” webzine (August 1, 2019). The milestone has flowers and foliage growing around it on a grassy patch. The background to the patch also has abstract patterns in different colours. Artworks credit: Anupam Hazra

Vartanama, Jul '19
Here’s some unsolicited advice on queering it up as Varta webzine turns six!

So ‘six’ happens to be the smallest perfect number. Math lovers will be quick to tell you that it’s the smallest number that equals the sum of its proper divisors (6 = 1 + 2 + 3). And then it also happens to be the only number that is both the sum and product of three consecutive positive numbers!

Before you think I’m a math wizard, let me assign the credit for the above wealth of knowledge to Wikipedia. But I can’t help remember that it was in the sixth standard in school that I scored more than 80 per cent for the first time ever in any subject related to mathematics. And then as mathematics lost its power to make me fall sick with fear, the boys in school and elsewhere overtook the girls in making me fall sick with love fever.

Since that realization, it’s been 39 years and there’s a six hidden in that number; six is one half of 69; Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code was read down on the sixth day of September last year . . . finding such associations of numbers with life situations can be dime a dozen and can make for a fun picnic game. But there’s a more important message that the number six sends out.

In its perfection six is simple and magical. In terms of the very sequences that lead to six – (1 + 2 + 3) or (1 x 2 x 3) – it implies possibilities that one may not have thought of, or allowed oneself to explore. ‘Queer’ too is all about possibilities – in our internal explorations and outward expressions related to gender and sexuality, in the shapes of our bodies, in our friendships and relationships, in the families that we are part of, in the kind of sex we have, in the places we make out in, in the type and number of intimacies we have, and so on.

But then why stop at sex, gender and sexuality? What about the possibilities in the field of studies and work? In the way we travel, in how and what we shop for, in what we eat, in the languages we speak, in what is private and what is public . . . the domains of queerness can be endless (and overlapping) and the possibilities in each domain infinite. In fact, queerness could be the gateway to . . . well, umm, should I at all spell that out? Where your queerness leads you to should also be your choice! Not determined by any individual and certainly not by any godly figure, scripture, NGO, corporate or government. Queerness should therefore be the bedrock of democracies and their constitutions.

Reality check: Of course, the choices we have at any given point of time will be limited by the world around us. But then that’s where birthdays can play an important role – they can provide the impetus to think about how we can create more choices for ourselves and others. The only guiding light that I will dare to flag with vigour is a ‘green’ one – the choices that we create and exercise should be much, much kinder to the environment around us than they are at the moment.

Parting thoughts – read here the editorial published when Varta webzine (then in a blog format) turned one (‘Varta’ Blog 1st Birthday Album), and here the editorial published in Pravartak journal, Varta's predecessor, when Counsel Club, the erstwhile queer support group that published Pravartak, turned three (Tasting ‘Threedom’!).

Graphic credit: Anupam Hazra (artworks created with pen ink on art paper, combined and modified with Windows Microsoft Paint software).

Author Photo

Pawan Dhall

Pawan Dhall aspires to be a rainbow journalist and believes in taking a stand, even if it’s on the fence – the view is better from there!

Author Photo

Anupam Hazra

Anupam Hazra has a performative gender identity and a multiple wish list – social work, project management, sex work, dancing, painting, making costume jewellery, acting, chewing paan, being drunk . . . unfortunately or thankfully most of the time ze is unable to be and do all of it simultaneously.

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