The Cover of Author's Amit Anand Book, The Afterlife Chronicler
The LGBTQIA+ history is as colorful as the rainbow itself but I have always felt the drab and downright boring colors are given more precedence in the LGBTQIA+ portrayals we see in media, clearly missing the liveliness of the modern LGBTQIA+ lives - this could be portrayals in TV series, Movies, Books, Print, whatever, wherever. Yes, as soon as I say this, there are bound to be murmurs in your head saying: Nah! it isn't so! Well, what I am saying here is, may not be entirely true (because there are definitely happy endings, here and there but again, these are few and far between) but it does make one question: Why do LGBTQIA+ storylines have to be "mostly" about tragic endings, queer-phobic environment, disease, betrayal, abandonment, abuse, suffering, or persecution - The end-all and be-all of LGBTQIA+ representation.
I agree that we can't always see the world in rose-tinted glasses and being pretentious behind the facade of vibrancy. Agreed, many countries in the world don't recognize or at the worse, trying best to diminish the rights of the LGBTQIA+ people in the most atrocious of ways in human existence, almost to a point of condemnation. Even in gay-friendly countries, there are possibilities of people insulting LGBTQIA+ people on a whim ignoring their visibility outrightly. However, I have a strong belief in what you see is what you get. We continue to see sadness over happiness, disgust over acceptance, and that, unfortunately, becomes the narrative of how this community is portrayed largely, and that also kind of, becomes the norm on how the LGBTQIA+ community is perceived on the bigger canvas of society and the culture that propels it.
Mainstreaming Gay and Happily Ever After!
I am beginning this quest with this book making a cogent effort to bring to the surface, empowered LGBTQIA+ protagonists, characters, and their stories, all centered around positive portrayals and happy endings! Normalizing LGBTQIA+ portrayals, relationships, and life (rarely depicted) in the media - an essential element to change the narrative. Basically, mainstreaming the narrative that being Gay and Happy is how it is. This isn't just a work of fiction. To be honest, a lot of stories in this series you will read are inspired by real people who carry the self-belief that they can be themselves wherever they are, even in the wake of disapproval of their lifestyle, they persist to be authentic... to be happy. The word is "inspiration" as I am in the process of compiling real-life stories and adapting them into reel-life with thoughtful twists and turns and perhaps that will see the light of the day in my upcoming series of 24 books under THE AFTERLIFE CHRONICLER umbrella. It doesn't mean we brush the bad, the unappealing under the proverbial carpet. Every LGBTQIA+ individual, notwithstanding the sweeping generalization, has not been unscathed growing up to self-discovery, bullying in varying degrees, duality, anxiety, self-harm, bad decisions, addictions, coping mechanisms, painful experiences, or memories battling mental health, personality disorders, and deep-rooted shame, vulnerability, and impulses of surviving over thriving.
LGBTQIA+ Representation and then, some more!
The need for a more positive depiction of LGBTQIA+ individuals in the media is the only way we can normalize an individual's natural orientation. LGBTQIA+ underrepresentation isn't the issue... it's the misrepresentation that we ought to focus on! Yes, being a diversity proponent I am all for inclusion in its truest sense. Ableism, sexism, racism, etc. is something I do not tolerate on a personal level, and that kind of reverberates in the work I do. Minorities discriminating against a subset of minorities within the SAME community is appalling, it is frankly appalling even for any diaspora and beyond, for that matter as we are all interlinked, interrelated, and intersectional.
Discussions would include debates on why LGBTQIA+ characters can't and don't fill up the casts of mainstream movies. The OTT platforms are paving the way for queer protagonists and characters with broader roles to perform weaving their full lived experience and authenticity into the story, and this is what I have highlighted with gay abundance in this book/blog. I was once told that as an LGBTQIA+ author I must not be stereotypical in my depiction of gay characters, often showing gay men as effeminate and flamboyant or lesbians as macho and butch. I don't believe that showing gay men as effeminate is wrong in any way. It's how that caricature becomes the norm of gay representation which is wrong. My characters can have any trait:: feminine, masculine, non-binary, disabled, overweight, any distinguishing characteristic that may set them up to feel less of themselves as to how it is made out to be by default, as is the perception but frankly, they are fully and wholly comfortable in their own skin. Such is the empowerment, the whole ownership of self that needs to be portrayed than feeling sorry for oneself that one doesn't fit the norm set by pseudo-perfectionists, be it the heteronormative (cis) or homocentric standards that weigh more toward a facade than what's non-conforming.
Enjoy darlings! And, be bedazzled!