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A collection of oral histories
of LGBT persons

17. Ruth Vanita

Ruth Vanita

Ruth says she was never confused about her sexuality, she
only needed time to discover it. Experimenting with Marxism
during her early college years and then being vocal in her
writings about feminist ideologies, for Ruth, studying same-
sex literature and theories were a natural next step. After few
years of study abroad, returning to India and teaching literature,
she became part of one of the earliest non-formal LGBT
intellectual circle in Delhi. The excitement of the underground
gay & lesbian movement during the 90s is still fresh in her
mind and she feels that while the LGBT movement has made
rapid strides in the last few years, there still needs a more
positive legal and social framework for same-sex couples to
have a lasting happy relationship in India. Her defining book
'Same-Sex Love in India' with Saleem Kidwai is one of her
many literary outings that form the spine of contemporary
Indian same-sex literature. She is happily married to her
same-sex partner and has a son.

Vivek Anand

Concept, Interviews & Direction:
Sridhar Rangayan

project BOLO - vol1

Watch BOLO Video of Ruth Vanita


Excerpts from BOLO Interview

Ruth: There was a period when I had very very short hair and
most of the time I wore jeans, baggy sweaters and didn't wear
any make-up or jewelry or anything like that. That was partly
because of being a feminist. Now lots of people are teaching
in jeans but that time nobody did… and at that time I was so
young too… that I couldn't be distinguished from students!

The first time I cut my hair it wasn't that short, it was shoulder
length… but they still were very upset. That was not anything
to do with being lesbian, but it was because they belong to a
particular type of Christianity where women are supposed to
have long hair… So they were not at all happy with what I did.
Over the time they were upset, but they accepted it.

At some point of time in '87-88, I did tell my mother. I didn't
tell my father. She asked me a few questions, she didn't get
terribly upset, but of course, she would have preferred it not
to be the case. She kind of accepted it… and over the time
we have talked about it a little… they accepted it, they were
fine. With all my friends and all… now with my partner also
she is fine… She sometimes introduces her as her


India : Queer Ink
International : Amazon

Supported by
UNDP India
Produced by
The Humsafar Trust

Associate Producer
Solaris Pictures
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Adita BandopadhyayAshok Row KaviBetu SinghBindumadhav KhireDalip DaswaniGauri SawantGeeta KumanaGiti ThadaniHoshang MerchantJehangir Jani
LachiLaxmi Narayan TripathiManvendra Singh GohilNishaParmesh ShahaniR.Raj RaoRuth VanitaSaleem KidwaiShivananda KhanSunil Gupta


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