London, United Kingdom. 2014.
“Trying to explore the unnameable and the unnamed, the silenced and the silent – how can a writer deal with language that is not supposed to exist?” – Thomas Glave
Of the 53 member nations of the Commonwealth, 42 continue to criminalise consensual same-sex activities between adults. How can writers kickstart social change before the legislative process starts?
Writers Shyam Selvadurai, Thomas Glave, and visual activist Skye Skyetshooki have all faced the dilemma between living in fear and silence at home, or speaking freely in another country. In a conversation chaired by BBC journalist Razia Iqbal, they talk about their personal experiences and the choices and compromises they’ve had to make.
Shyam Selvadurai was born in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Funny Boy, his first novel, won the WH Smith/Books in Canada First Novel Award and the Lambda Literary Award in the US. He is the author of Cinnamon Gardens and Swimming in the Monsoon Sea, and the editor of an anthology, Story-wallah! A Celebration of South Asian Fiction. His books have been published in the US, the UK and India, and translated widely. His latest novel is The Hungry Ghosts (2013)
Thomas Glave is the author of Whose Song? and Other Stories, Words to Our Now: Imagination and Dissent (2005), The Torturer’s Wife (2008) and Among the Bloodpeople: Politics and Flesh (2013), named a 2014 Lambda Literary Award finalist. He is editor of the anthology, Our Caribbean: A Gathering of Lesbian and Gay Writing from the Antilles. Thomas has been the Martin Luther King, Jr. Visiting Professor at MIT, and is a 2014 Leverhulme Visiting Professor at the University of Warwick.
Skye Skyetshooki is a Visual ‘Artivist’ who uses art to raise awareness of political, social and human-rights issues. Currently she focuses on homosexuality on the continent of Africa. As a founder of Bones-na-unhu (www.bones-na-unhu.com), Skye uses cinematography, photography and fashion to raise awareness. She co-curated an exhibition on women’s issues at the Shonibare studio for Guest projects Africa, in London in 2014.
Razia Iqbal works as a special correspondent and presenter for BBC news; she is one of the main presenters of BBC World Service’s flagship current affairs programme, Newshour. She presents Talking Books for BBC World TV and the BBC News channel, a half hour interview programme with leading writers. She also presents documentaries on Radio 4 and World Service. Previously, she was the BBC Arts correspondent for seven years.