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From Tehelka Magazine, Vol 5, Issue 41, Dated Oct 18, 2008
CURRENT AFFAIRS  
life

‘I believe in falling in love with people, not body parts. I am gender oblivious’

Amruta Patil, author of the graphic novel Kari, on the benefits of the wide-angle view outsiders can bring to a cramped space

coverstory

WHEN KARI MADE HER gawky debut in February 2008 — there was no immediate attempt to ensnare her in a butterfly net. Happy thing. Reviews went on to talk about the use of tropes, the emergence of what may someday be an Indian graphic novel ‘scene’. People were divided about whether such rampant wordiness could pass itself off as a ‘graphic novel’. Kari’s undeniable queerness was discussed, but never pulled out of context.

I could not have asked for a more balanced reception. Kari escaped being bonsai-d by label, and went on to find her people — it didn’t matter if they were lesbian, bisexual, asexual. The response to my own person has been a little different. To write a tale, it seems, is not enough. One needs to neatly classify one’s own sexual politics. If one believes in falling in love with people (as opposed to body parts), then I identify as genderoblivious. It irks some people, but I like it this way — unapologetic, but unlabeled.

As we stand on the brink of the ‘mainstreaming’ of alternate sexualities, I hope we always guard against clubbishness and the either / or trap. No matter how legit a label, its job is still to keep things separate and apart. Not all outsiders bite, some actually bring a wide-angle lens to a cramped space. There is something fragile and infinitely precious about being ‘the other’ in a roomful of homogeneous people. Any kind of other. I hope we always make room for the odd fish.

From Tehelka Magazine, Vol 5, Issue 41, Dated Oct 18, 2008

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