When Tutul bhai (Ahmedur Rashid Chowdhury, editor and publisher of Shuddhashar) approached me with the idea of a special issue on LGBTIQ+ rights and asked if I would be interested to take up the ‘responsibility,’ I instantly knew I wanted to say yes. But given how I have been teaching myself to be cautiously happy (read increased cynicism), I took some time to contemplate: What is it that this special issue will deliver that isn’t already out there?
I did not find an answer. And yet, I said yes to Tutul bhai and embarked on an exciting journey of giving form to an abstract idea. But it was only after a couple of weeks of active thinking and endless hours of staring at the Zoom meeting screens (because the ceiling is too passé) that it dawned on me: I was actually going to guest edit a whole magazine for the first time in my life and that too for Shuddhashar! I first felt elated, then scared, and then a deep sense of gratitude enveloped my consciousness. And it was exactly then that I knew what this special issue was going to read like.
From my years of involvement in the global LGBTIQ+ activism, I have observed how critical thinking has been fueling and furthering our movement towards queer emancipation. But the conversations have been happening in silos and too often in Global North context and spaces, which were not accessible to many. Voices that mattered, unfortunately but not surprisingly, were absent. And with the pendulum swinging to the right and the social media spaces increasingly becoming polarized, the need to find another space for expressing ourselves has never been more deeply felt. With this issue, we tried to address those gaps in a minor but hopefully meaningful way.
This issue features 20 thought-provoking and analytical pieces on contemporary global LGBTIQ+ issues ranging from intersectional solidarity to queer migration to coming out in various contexts. Some of the articles are reflective of personal experiences of being queer in a world where agency of self-identification is taken away from Black bodies and Muslim hearts. In these events, how do we process our own pain to form a collective of shared experiences and build resistance? And what does that mean for archiving our memories so that we can stay connected with our queerness in an ever-shifting reality? We then also need to discuss how to hold space for trans and intersex individuals in all of these. Will they continue to be left behind just like many others in the movement led by the capitalist upper class? Things get murkier when we are bent on categorizing our oppression, forgetting the fluidity of sexualities and genders. Is it time for us to re-understand the nuances of women and sexualities given the rise of the so-called ‘gender ideology’? There’s so much to think about and reflect upon in recognizing and locating the queer issues that matter.
The authors, as diverse as they are in their contents, are dispersed across the globe, representing their unique lived experiences and diverse identities. They all are the most beautiful and brilliant souls, who embody Shuddhashar’s motto: “To inspire, not to impress”. I am very much indebted to them for entertaining my request, turning in the pieces on time, and then tolerating the editorial tyranny! I thoroughly enjoyed reading their pieces, and I am sure the feeling will resonate with so many others.
I do not know what made Tutul bhai trust me with the responsibility, but I am glad he did. It has been an honor to be associated with Shuddhashar, a platform that I have deeply respected and admired since I have known it. I am greatly thankful to Shuddhashar for this wonderful opportunity.
I remain open to your questions and feedback. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Shakhawat Hossain Rajeeb
A note on the terminology
For this issue, we have used the initialism ‘LGBTIQ+’ as an umbrella term with fully acknowledging that there exists a much more diverse range of identities throughout the world. Our authors, however, had the freedom to use the terminology they preferred for their articles. And for those who are uninitiated, here is a helpful glossary from United Nation Free & Equal.