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June 2013

The Queer Issue IV

This month we celebrate LGBT writing from around the world with the fourth installment of our annual Queer Issue. In two timely essays, Dmitry Kuzmin exposes the roots of recent anti–gay propaganda laws in Russia and Quentin Girard observes the protests against gay marriage in France. We also feature an excerpt from Tatiana Niculescu Bran's The Confession, the basis for the award-winning Romanian film Beyond the Hills. India's Vaishali Raode takes us into the world of Mumbai's hijra community, and Taiwanese poet Jing Xianghai looks through photos from an old relationship. And we present fiction from Jordan's Fadi Zaghmout, Cuba's Anna Lidia Vega Serova, Slovenia's Suzana Tratnik, and Austria's Josef Winkler. In a special section of Sri Lankan writing, Ru Freeman, the author of A Disobedient Girl, introduces us to the work of Simon Navagaththegama, Ariyawansa Ranaweera, and Kalaivaathy Kaleel.

An Introduction to Our Fourth Annual Queer Issue
By Rohan Kamicheril
This June, Words without Borders publishes its fourth annual Queer issue. The United States is celebrating LGBT pride month. The country’s Supreme Court is scheduled to deliver verdicts on two landmark…
The Opposing Shore
By Quentin Girard
The room is covered in dead leaves. Two benches are placed just so, conjuring up a bucolic garden scene, in the first days of fall, in the countryside, waiting for the season to roll by and take our memories…
Translated from French by Damien Bright
On the Moscow Metro and Being Gay
By Dmitry Kuzmin
In the catalogue of sins in his Divine Comedy, which is as random as it is insanely detailed, Dante found room for the sin that “dared not speak its name” long before Oscar Wilde’s trial—one of which…
Translated from Russian by Alexei Bayer
from “The Confession”
By Tatiana Niculescu Bran
As they wearied, the whips would fall from their hands.
Translated from Romanian by Jean Harris
To a Young Man Who Arrived at the Party Dressed in a Lady’s Fur
By Håkan Sandell
  When you got to the party, sent by God knows whom—contingency, probably—wearing only a lady’s fur, at the outset closed, though only thrown on, shut but unbuttoned,  nothing…
Translated from Swedish by Bill Coyle
from “The Amman Bride”
By Fadi Zaghmout
That way we could both have our own family, but carry on seeing each other in secret.
Translated from Arabic by Ruth Ahmedzai Kemp
Very Cheesy and Also Rather Blah
By Jing Xianghai
carefully giving it some thought the lines on my palm[1] have deflected for you some now I suppose my dirty beard, my fiendish leg hair will graduate in time that someone of my years should care…
Translated from Chinese by Lee Yew Leong
Letters without Envelopes
By Suzana Tratnik
Her Swiss friend had assured her that she was no longer the only lesbian in Yugoslavia.
Translated from Slovene by Špela Bibič
Harpooned Woman
By Anna Lidia Vega Serova
We bit one another mercilessly.
Translated from Spanish by Lawrence Schimel
An Introduction to Sri Lankan Literature
By Ru Freeman & Malinda Seneviratne
Sri Lanka is blessed with a rich repository of narratives and narrative styles in the written and oral traditions.
The Hunter in the Wilderness of Sansara
By Simon Navagaththegama
The bird lay motionless and dead and infinitely small upon his massive palm.
Translated from Sinhala by Malinda Seneviratne
By Kalaivaathy Kaleel
(Note: This story is based on the life of Rizana Nafeek, a Sri Lankan girl convicted and subsequently executed in Saudi Arabia for the alleged murder of four-month-old Naif al-Quthaibi.) “Aunty,…
Translated from Sinhala by K.S. Sivakumaran
Lakshmi’s Story
By Vaishali Raode
People are curious to know about hijras. How do we live? Behave? What do we do? Do we kidnap children? What funeral rites are performed for a hijra after his death? Is he cremated or buried? Such questions…
Translated from Marathi by R Raj Rao & P G Joshi
At the Supermarket
By Ariyawansa Ranaweera
trembling for the fingertip touch, pick, and cuddle
Translated from Sinhala by Malinda Seneviratne
from “The Graveyard of Bitter Oranges”
By Josef Winkler
In front of a tropical fruit stand in the Piazza dei Cinquecento, lit up by low-hanging bare bulbs, I stood and observed the red flesh pierced by black seeds of the melons, the yellow pineapples split…
Translated from German by Adrian Nathan West