Popular Indian gay blog CSB came out with an e-zine to celebrate its 5th anniversary. Sukhdeep Singh finds out more from Sam
Indian LGBT community was in for a treat in September when the popular blog CSB (Crazy Sam’s Bloginess) came out with an e-zine to celebrate its 5th anniversary. The over 70 page Anniversary issue has articles covering a wide range of topics from gay life, homophobia to photography and modelling and is a collection of CSB articles over the period of 5 years. CSB is the personal blog of Sam where he vents out his thoughts and feelings which he can’t express in the real world. If there is one thing that catches your attention about CSB at the first go, then it is the tagline “Straight Friendly Gay Blog”. Sam has an interesting explanation as to why he chose that tagline. “I saw there are many gay blogs who were talking about issues faced by gay community, but don’t seem to consider involving straight community as a part of the solution. Just like the situation that existed a few years ago – of the limited number of gay Indian blogs – similar is the case presently in terms of the number of gay Indian blogs that straight community can visit, to understand what actually goes through someone they know who is gay. The posts that appear on CSB try to make a connection that straight people can identify in their lives and then attempt to draw a similar analogy to help them comprehend gay thoughts and feelings. I also make sure that the pictures that get selected for CSB posts are not sexually explicit or repulsive in nature,” he explains.
Though the blog started as a personal blog of Sam (or Crazy Sam, as he calls himself), it slowly transformed into a gay website portal highlighting the issues faced by gay community, offering support to lessen their dilemmas, raising a voice against homophobia and paedophilia, chronicling Sam’s coming to terms with sexuality, interacting with famous photographers and male models, and spreading cheer with aesthetic male shots. “I realized that there is a need to throw light on the many misconceptions regarding homosexuality and gay men. And I began to write articles to address these issues. At the same time, I started to get mails from other gay men seeking my view on their personal life issues. And I thought if these mails and my responses were published on CSB, there will be so many others who could benefit from them, at least in realizing that they are not alone. And that’s how the ‘Ask Sam’ series happened. I also wanted CSB to showcase the best of male photography,” tells Sam. With over 400 dedicated subscribers and 500 followers to the blog worldwide, including fashion photographers, CSB remains one of the most popular gay blogs from India.
Each year CSB would celebrate its anniversary with a mock-up cover, indicating that an e-zine was very well in the offing. “I have always wanted to try out how CSB would look like in a magazine format. The idea had been haunting me for more than a year, but then time and circumstances didn’t seem to be apt for such an exhaustive project,” says Sam. “I wanted to do something big for CSB’s fifth anniversary and I knew there could never be a better moment for this project than now. Plus, it is also easier to go through articles in a magazine format where you can just flip through, rather than browsing hundreds of links,” he adds.
Thus, the e-zine carries some of the best articles that have appeared on the CSB blog. The content is so designed that it appeals to the straight community as well and also lends a supporting hand to those who are confused regarding their sexuality. There are Anniversary special articles (which haven’t appeared on the blog) too. The magazine also features the fantastic works of Los Angeles & San Francisco men’s fashion photographer, Ronald N Tan and interviews of Shobhna Kumar (founder of the online queer bookstore – Queer Ink) and Billy Graham (founder and CEO of the LGBT social network – Showcase Freedom.
Does that mean that India can brace up for another gay e-mag? Not so soon, he says. “The entire experience of making the current e-zine of CSB made me realize that it requires a lot of time, effort, creativity and patience. I had to design each page and article to give it the look and feel of a fashion & lifestyle magazine. Plus it is a collection of CSB articles over the period of 5 years. So in terms of a second magazine entirely written by me, it will take time.” But then, he does state his intentions of coming out with a gay magazine on a quarterly frequency in the future. “I will soon start the search for writers and photographers who can contribute for the magazine edition.” Till that happens, you can happily flip through this anniversary issue.