Updated: Mar 22
in LGBTQ Digital Cultures: A Global Perspective edited by Paromita Pain
March 4, 2022 by Routledge
280 Pages 26 B/W Illustrations
Illustration by permission from Priya Dali based on Teenasai Balamu's Almaarii
Abstract: The concept of ‘coming out’ is a big part of the narrative that surrounds the queer community, even though not everyone in the community experiences it. The ‘closet’ has been, for the most part, described as being stuck somewhere before the feeling of knowing an identity that was non-normative. But what happens if the concepts of closets and coming out were both not introduced to those of us who are not native English speakers? Almaarii is a 3-year long, ongoing anthropological exploration carried out by a trans activist and ethnographer with the sole aim of collecting narratives for queer South Asians about intersectional experiences of the ‘closet’. The proposed book chapter will follow the journey of over 170 people and closets who have been interviewed for this project, and the illustrations made from these descriptions. Closets have always been understood as unified experiences, but their complexity is explored by looking beyond the borrowed ‘closet’- Almaariis emerge as individual fingerprints of heterogenous experiences within the queer movement. What else could a closet be called? Would we have one at all? What does it look like? Is it always a space of pain, or can it be safe? Does ‘coming out’ always mean ‘being out’? The result of this project is a digital narrative of deeply embedded cultural markers and nuanced identities that inform the joys, traumas, and the experiences of being a queer person in South Asia. By creating a world of how these spaces look and are experienced by different people, the book chapter will theorise language, experience, and narrative identity in a seemingly postcolonial world where digital spaces have become public spaces of discussion, as a place to archive our joys and traumas, but also spaces where homes are built- in comment sections and across messages exchanged by strangers that might never meet.
Recommended Citation: Krishnakumar, Pooja (Jo). “Take a Look Inside: Exploring Closets as Fingerprints of the Queer Community.” In LGBTQ Digital Cultures: A Global Perspective, First., 48–65. Routledge, 2022. https://www.routledge.com/LGBTQ-Digital-Cultures-A-Global-Perspective/Pain/p/book/9781032050003.