An Open Book
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Manogat, a Marathi anthology, traces the stories of people from the LGBT community spread across Maharashtra
For 23-year-old Pranesh (name changed on request) , growing up in a small village near Jalgaon was very confusing. He was a shy child, kept to himself and did fairly well in school. But he had a secret which he couldn't tell anyone — for as long as he knew, he was attracted to men.
"I was so naïve that I didn't even know what my so-called condition was. All I knew was that I liked men. In a small village such as this, I didn't have anyone to talk to, I did not have access to the internet or any informative books. It was a very tough time," says Pranesh.
Stories such as these are the reason that Bindumadhav Khire, president of Samapathik Trust, Pune, decided to publish an anthology in Marathi, called Manogat, comprising stories of people like Pranesh's. "There is very little literature available in Marathi for reference. That is why the entire community suffers and many are ignorant," he says. The 10-year-old city-based NGO has been working towards educating the community about HIV-AIDS. "We are not as big a community as in Mumbai, Delhi or Bengaluru. According to our data, Pune has an LGBT population of around 1,400 people — but not all of them are 'out of the closet,'" he says. This is arguably the first such anthology of LGBT works in Marathi.
Pranesh, who had come to terms with his sexuality when he moved to Pune to study, hasn't told his parents about his sexual preferences yet. "They have worked all their lives in a government office in Jalgaon. I'm afraid of letting them down. Besides, I don't think they will understand," he confesses, adding that this is the reason he chose to use a pseudonym for his contribution to the anthology. After quitting a high-paying job in a software firm to work with the community, Pranesh is at peace. "I have been seeing a wonderful man for the last two years and we are living together as well," he says. "But I hope that my experiences provide some sort of help to other people who are confused about their sexuality. That's why I decided to pen my thoughts," says Pranesh Khire will collect life stories of people from the LGBT community in rural and urban parts of Maharashtra.
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