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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
In the spring of 2005 an exorcism took place in a small, unfinished monastery in Vaslui County in northwestern Romania. Casting out demons is more common in Romania than in the West, but there was nothing…
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
We really needed to talk. This was a difficult situation that we needed to find a way out of. He absolutely refused to share me with anyone else, and he wasn't prepared to lead a life with me where…
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
Mara's first letter came in the autumn of the late 1980s. The fact that she had gotten my address in Switzerland, as she explained at the beginning, seemed incredible to me, almost mysterious. She…
Translated from Slovene by Špela Bibič
Harpooned Woman
By Anna Lidia Vega Serova
 Two lonelinesses that sometimes came together to feed the ego of destruction. –Marilin Roque   Upon a bed of frustrations, bed of lost hopes, a ghost ship bed, suddenly too wide, too…
Translated from Spanish by Lawrence Schimel
An Introduction to Sri Lankan Literature
By Ru Freeman & Malinda Seneviratne
Sri Lanka, which boasts a 92% rate of literacy—the highest in South Asia and among the highest in Asia—has a long storytelling tradition. What is perhaps special about literature in this country…
The Hunter in the Wilderness of Sansara
By Simon Navagaththegama
A long time ago, sixteen leagues from our village, Navagaththegama, there lived the hunter. The area was called Mullegama Galkanda. The hunter lived on Mullegama Rock and in the surrounding jungle. The…
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
Red, rosy, and full they cluster in unusual collectivity these kehel-mal, the plantain-bloom under an unfamiliar, coolness-dripping roof   trembling for the fingertip touch, pick, and cuddle of ladies…
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