The collection of essays Queering India: Same-Sex Love and Eroticism in Indian Culture and Society by Ruth Vanita first hit shelves on this day in 2001. Focusing on LGBT subculture in both pre-colonial and post-colonial India, Queering India provides a comprehensive look at real everyday life for LGBT people in India and put Ruth Vanita’s name on the map as a force to be reckoned with in the field of lesbian and gay studies.
Ruth Vanita was born in Rangoon, Burma in 1955, but her family moved to New Delhi when she was only 2-years-old. Although she has been a practicing Hindu ever since her late 20s, her North Indian mother and Tamilian father originally raised her in a Christian household. Ruth suffered from acute myopia as a child and as a result her 8th grade teacher encouraged her mother to simply take her out of school. Thankfully, both of her parents were teachers themselves and were able to home school Ruth through high school and allowed her to enroll in Miranda House College at Delhi University.
She eventually received her PhD in the late 1990s, her thesis serving as the foundation of her book Sappho and the Virgin Mary: Same-Sex Love and the English Literary Imagination. She was the co-founder of the influential activist magazine Manushi: A Journal about Women and Society and has written over 50 academic articles and 8 books in the field of English literature, Indian literature, and LGBT studies. She is currently a professor at the University of Montana and serves as the director of the university’s Global Humanities and Religions Program. You can find Queering India here!