Redefining Queerscapes - Rewriting Queerscapes through Poetry

QJP contributor Raju Behara has led on a social action project that has included panel discussions and workshops that have generated poems and other forms of art. Here you can find some of the outcomes of this project. Their journey through The YP Foundation’s EQUAL fellowship can be accessed here. If you'd like to find out more about this project, please contact Raju on

The first set of poetry workshops were conducted at ŪRU - a Queer Village, a queer camping festival conceptualised and produced by Prasanna Pichai in partnership with Out & About, at Wayanad Kerala 

The second set of poetry workshops were conducted as a Pre-Pride event, during Namma Pride 2022. The poster is below:

Activity 1 of the workshops: What do safe spaces mean to you as a queer-trans individual? Participants of the workshop were encouraged to explore what safe spaces means to them in the first set of activities, which involved free form writing and sketching. These are some of the artistic outputs:

Activity 2 of the workshops: Using Blackout and Erasure poetry to redefine queer-trans lived experiences in housing, healthcare and workplaces, pre and post Section-377 Litigations

The letters and other texts used by the workshop participants in the project for blackout and erasure poetry can be found here:*

*The project utilised first-person narratives from publicly available sources for this exercise, which includes: 

Articles and Poems sourced from Gaysi This platform is a space for expression and dialogue about queer sensibilities in South Asia. A place for sharing thoughts, activism, dreams, theories, confessions, and desires.

Essays sourced from Less than Gay: A citizen's report on the status of homosexuality in India, developed by AIDS Bhedbav Virodhi Andolan.

Some of the artistic outputs generated through erasure are below:

Activity 3 of the workshops: Using found poetry to reimagine what safe spaces to us as queer-trans individuals, in the backdrop of the imagery and texts accessed in activity 2, and through the lens of safe spaces, defined in activity 1. Some of the poems generated in this activity are below. 

Poems from ŪRU workshops:

Poem 1 Loving my Job

How can I love my job?

Sounds frantic, nothing heretic,

Setting sun floods the west faced boardroom,

Long table chairs around

No damsel or knight to be found,

Whence cometh my love for this.

Circular rectangle?

Country Director & Intern.

Same table, same circle.

Floor complete with grassroot changemakers & 

Ceiling with upper echelons of policy makers

Or is it the other way around.?

We talk for hours about

Dalits dying in sewers &

Trans people from AIDS

Teacher absenteeism,

like justice in the lives of the oppressed.

Power by, Hunger, Trauma

Beyond number

What a sad affair?

We win subtly and fail gloriously,

Broken people and broken systems

Sitting on broken chairs,

Yet I'm in love,

With the power, and

Nowhere to take cover.

A place as strong as bullets & safe as pillows,

The fears, the tears,

And listening ears.

Power in empathy,

They love me out of my misery.

Poems from Namma Pride workshops:

Poem 1

I feel like crying

Muffled sounds filter through me,

Stubbornly resisting

She, trying to thrust me out

We stain against each other


Pain is non-linear

Love is a chaotic system

Multi variable, insane

A vital gift


Fear (t)

Fear (love, t)

Fear (pain, love, t)

Fucking Frightening


Poem 2

Pride with a girl

Pride with a boy

The hour gets dark.

With Pride I toy


I try a bit hard

Right from the start

But as dust falls

I collapse as cards.


Flowers & Prayers,

And pout up & sex

Never seen summer

With winter I`m struck.


Don’t with hesitation, Ma

This constant agitation, Ma

Into the galaxy of endless perhaps,

Trending as stars, not gonna relapse.


My identity is informal ma,

As resistant & moral ma

Sorry I couldn't be more normal ma

Sorry I couldn't be more normal ma

Panel Discussion 

This was the final activity of the pilot social action project which included conversations centred around the legal entitlements and barriers to access them with NGOs and Policy Think-tanks.

Celebrating our first Queer Judgments Project presentation - March 2022

Flick Adams and Dr Fabienne Emmerich of Keele University presented on "Foreclosing Possibilities of Queer Love, Relations of Care, and Solidarity: Deconstructing Hopkins v Sodexo and the Protection of the Heteronormative Institutional Order". 

You can address any queries to and

To view and download a PDF of the presentation, please use this link. 

Focusing on the Edited Collection, February 2022

The Queer Judgments Project held two workshops to discuss project priorities, with the focus on creating an edited collection. We now have over 70 contributors, each focusing on re-writing and analyzing a different legal judgment pertaining to the lives of queer individuals from around the world. 

Scoping workshops, October 2021

We held further workshops in October 2021 to discuss the project outputs and goals. We established a list of official contributors and honed in on written and creative outputs of the project. 

At these workshops, we also addressed several theoretical questions:

1. How does legality reflect colonial power structures?

2. What kind of queer subjects does the law imagine? 

3. Are we seeking legality?

4. What are the consequences of being stigmatised?

5. In what ways does the law think about the queer subject and how queer subjects position themselves in relation to the law?

We also addressed some methodological questions:

1.How deep does our knowledge of the judgment have to be?

2.How can evidence be queered to become accessible? 

3.How can we queer the files that judges have access to?

At these workshops, fellow queer scholars and activists spoke passionately about issues ranging from reimagining the decriminalisation of homosexuality to making room for the experiences of LGBTIQ+ people who seek asylum, to rethinking modes of legal gender recognition, to dismantling carceral systems harming socially marginalised populations, etc. The various topics discussed spanned jurisdictions, court hierarchies, and subdisciplines of law.

Scoping workshops, July 2021 

In July 2021, we held two scoping workshops to bring together queer scholars and activists to reflect on jurisprudential challenges related to SOGIESC matters. In framing this conversation, we were not tied to specific SOGIESC-related rights issues or subdisciplines of law or styles of jurisprudence. We wanted to create an open space which gave people the opportunity to identify some of the pressing legal, scholarly, and activist concerns relating to SOGIESC-related rights and to work out what a ‘queer judgments project’ might offer to our collective work to improve SOGIESC-related rights globally. To that end, we asked those interested in the conversation to reflect on the following questions:

1. How might queer judgments be relevant to your work (as a lawyer, scholar, activist, etc)? 

2. What jurisdictional andjurisprudential scope should the project have?

 3. What theoretical perspectives should inform such a project? 

4. What form should “queer judgments” take? 

5. What (scholarly, political, artistic) outputs could we develop together? 

6. How might we resource this work?

We had over 30 people from different parts of the world join the initial (virtual) dinner-table conversation to discuss these questions. The discussions that took place online were enormously rich. 

What became clear from the conversation is that the Queer Judgments Project would not just be a “typical” academic edited collection. Rather, people were interested inoffering critical commentaries through writing and podcasts, re-writing judgments, experimenting with legal form, queering legal interventions by theatricalising them or turning them into comics, and collaborating with activists and artists to rethink the limits and possibilities of law when it comes to SOGIESC issues or the lives of LGBTIQ+ people.

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