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Whistling in the Dark

Whistling in the Dark
Twenty-One Queer Interviews

First Edition
Edited by:

Other Titles in:
Gender & Sexuality Studies

November 2008 | 300 pages | SAGE India
Whistling in the Dark: Twenty-one Queer Interviews focuses on issues like sexuality, sexual identity, marriage, gay marriage, heteronormativity, gay utopia, gay activism, gay bashing, police atrocities and the laws vis-à-vis these. The interviewees represent a cross section of society ranging from university professors, gay rights activists and students, on the one hand, to working class men such as office boys, auto-rickshaw drivers and even undertrials who have served prison sentences, on the other.

The thought-provoking narratives in this book are the outcome of probing and incisive questions put to the respondents by the editors R. Raj Rao and Dibyajyoti Sarma. Appealing to a wide readership, the narratives go beyond the conventional and provide a rare insight into the private lives of the respondents. Besides being a must read for gay activists and organisations, the book will also be a useful resource for post-graduate students and academics working in the fields of sexuality studies, feminism and alternative literature.
Hoshang Merchant
Sushil Patil
Manish Pawar
Kama Maureemootoo
Christopher Benninger and Ram Naidu
Satish Ranadive
Mahohar Shitole
Thomas Waugh
Narendra Binner
Arman Pasha
Aslam Shaikh
Ana Garcia-Arroyo
Avinash Gaitonde
Ankit Gupta
Ganesh Holay
Raja Chandraratne
Darius Ankleshwaria
Dilip Sheth
Shivji Panikkar
Mohammad Soltani
Bindumadhav Khire

Rao and Sarma’s work is an invaluable addition to resources on gay issues in India.

The text is a must-read for all those who wish to engage with stories of homosexual male lives in urban and semi-urban settings in modern India. It is essential for those engaged in public advocacy around issues of sexuality, to learn through lived stories about the existing paradigm and the political struggles that lie ahead of us.


The authors] have done a remarkable job. The narratives maintain a certain dignity throughout. Each is a story. The entire gamut of issues is covered, from gay activism and gay culture to police atrocities and health issues.

Civil Society

The book would be a must have for gay activists and organisations working in the fields of sexuality studies, feminism and alternative literature but at the same time, it has a much wider appeal than just those…. Not just a dry-as dust series of interviews, these are real-life stories of real people, living all around us, yet feeling separate from the mainstream…This book gives them a voice.

The Tribune

Rao and Sarma, both academics as well as novelists, balance the narratives in this book between private, individual stories and their wider context with poise and sensitivity. By turns stark and wry, emotional and enlightening, Whistling in the Dark serves as more than just an academic addition to the cannon of sub-continental queer studies.


A new book contains candid interviews with 21 queer people. It’s almost as good as hearing their stories first-hand… Each interview in Whistling in the Dark reads like tete-a-tete between friends, with Rao and Sarma posing questions to queer people from all walks of life. They chat about sex, love, homophobic violence in public spaces and within families, as well as struggle to negotiate ethnic and gender identities…The rest of the book just leaves readers to engage in a variety of conversations with queer people who bring a very wide range of experiences to the table.

Time Out

The chronicles in the collection reveal the tragedies and minor triumphs of a people who are the inhabitants of a cruel unequal world.

The Telegraph

R. Raj Rao

R. Raj Rao is a writer, poet, and teacher of literature and ‘one of India’s leading gay-rights activists’. His 2003 novel, The Boyfriend, is one of the first gay novels to come from India. Rao was one of the first recipients of the newly established QuebecIndia awards. R. Raj Rao is the author of almost a dozen books of poetry, fiction, plays, biography, and criticism. His book, Whistling in the Dark: Twenty-one Queer Interviews, co-edited with Dibyajyoti Sarama, was published by SAGE in 2009. He is former Professor and Head of the Department of English at the Savitribai Phule Pune University. More About Author

Dibyajyoti Sarma

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ISBN: 9788178299211

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