10 Queer Indian Graphic Artists You Must Follow on Instagram

Art is a powerful way to express yourself and also be a medium of social commentary. An artist’s imagination and creativity can create new vistas, and bring to fore both hidden desires as well as our struggles. That being said, there aren’t too many openly queer artists in India to bring forth queer issues through illustrations or art. Yet, there are a handful of them coloring and queering some of the digital mediums that exist today. We tell you 10 of the best queer graphic artists on instagram that you must follow.

1. Priyanka Paul (artwhoring)

Priyanka is an illustrator from Mumbai, and her instagram page is a delight to look at. The page has close to 53K followers, and is our top recommendation to everyone.

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At the age of 6, all the boys played cricket. I wanted to play, too. They'd give me their bat when it was my chance but they soon found it annoying. So once, at a nearby construction taking place, I found an iron rod and that was my new bat. I can't imagine how I used something as thin as a rod for a bat, but I did. Until one day, the rusted rod cut my hands and my dad saw. He then bought me a bat. My question: Why not buy me a bat when you already knew my friends played cricket. Why buy me a doll with a flat stomach, blue eyes and blonde hair? At 10, I joined football classes. My dad was a district level player. He'd go down to play with the neighbour's kids. Never me. When I asked him why? He'd wave it off as me not being good enough or him being tired. He used to play defence. I played defence, too. We just never played together or watched matches. Sometimes I think, does he want a son? Or would I be treated differently if I was a boy? At 12, I was at my dad's office and a client of his saw me and my sister and asked whether dad had a son? Dad said no. The client then sympathised and said try harder, you'll surely get a son. Dad said "My daughters are better than any sons." We live in a world where you have to compensate for the existence of two daughters with a son or justify the existence of two girls. At 15, I cut my hair into a mohawk and faced ridicule at my house and school. My parents refused to look at me and kids at school jeered at me. If you try to change the dynamics of everyday life or try to change society or gender roles even through something as menial as a hair style, you're gonna be punished. Long hair. Girls were supposed to have long hair. I don't like adhering to norms. At 16, I go swimming, where little girls, wear a swim suit and then a shirt under a swim suit and then lycra tights too. While boys jump in with bare minimum clothing. Some boys having boobs bigger than mine. Because obviously my body can't be exposed because it will either turn you on or offend you and as such, society deemed this to be a woman's problem. I hope we are seeing what's wrong here. I hope you're doing your little part in not enforcing gender roles.

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2. Param Sahib (parambanana)

Param is a fashion designer cum illustrator. His instagram account describes him as “MAXIMALIST Designer”. If one thing you will notice about Param’s instagram is that he loves colours, the bright ones especially. When he is not posting photos of the quirky clothes that he designs, he posts his illustrations. Many of his artworks portray a gay sikh man and his desires, and he has been at receiving many hate comments and abuses for this as well. When asked what his illustrations are trying to portray, Param says, “It’s just an everyday experience in a queer Sikh man’s life. So it could be funny, emotional, learning moments where being queer is just a part of him and not a deciding factor for him.” It is rare to see artwork showcasing Sikh men in gay embraces or desires. No wonder he has accumulated 30k followers on Instagram.

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FINAL GOODBYES . (New piece of art ) #illustrated . I am sorry I could not say I love you for the last time we fought , knowing that we would never meet again . I am sorry I didn’t make an effort to call you back knowing how much I wanted to because I could just never say it . Having you around made me so complete that words seemed useless . I am sorry we can’t be together as it would only result in bloodbath and our families would not approve of us . I am sorry that I keep checking my phone in morning , afternoon and in the night before sleeping to know if you had called but now your number won’t ring . I am sorry for the summers that I would travelling solo now knowing that we had plans . I am sorry that I loved you and let you go because you couldn’t love me back , and you didn’t even care to put up a fight to win me back . I am sorry for the tomorrow that never came when you kept promising to meet me . I am sorry that first time I met you , we spent almost the entire day together and We couldn’t take my mind off each other . I am sorry for the surprise that I have been preparing for the last few months for your birthday but now I wont be seeing you . I am sorry that I haven’t loved someone relentlessly in my life but you want to explore more options . I am sorry that I wish this could be a closure and I don’t see you anywhere because if I do , I would fall in love with you again and you Won’t love me back , again … . I am sorry that I didn’t cry enough remembering you because all we had were happy good times . I am sorry that now when I visit the places that I visited with you , they won’t be the same . I am sorry that I never said sorry and now when I do , you are gone …. . . . . #paramsahib #art #artistsoninstagram #artist #heart #illustration #illustrator @buzzfeedindia #illustrationartists #vectorart #vector #vectorillustration #gayart #gay #lgbt #queer #queerart #memories #heart #heartbroken #quarantine #selfquarantine #corona #indian #indianart @homegrownin #beardeddragon #bearded #doodle #doodlesofinstagram #kissing #iloveyou @indiaculturalhub

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It took me three years to come out of the horrors of standing in front of more than 100 sikh men , raging with anger and fury with swords , knives And curses , standing inside my little workshop in north Delhi , wanting to cut me into pieces because I made certain artworks portraying false sikh masculinity and accusations of misleading the religion to the youth of today , and for portraying the concept of queer through my Art ! Dragging me and my family into a community fight and accusations till wee hours of that dooms day , I was unarmed and unaware of the allegations being put on me for the mere attempt of making ART of my choice which as we say Is merely an expression of freedom . I was being interviewed live , televised and was printed about misleading the youth by these artworks and was forced to take them down with physical threats . Moreover twice I injured myself trying to run away and hide on the road hitting into a truck and a car respectively Whilst I was being chased by these goons on the streets. At that point , i decider to surrender and sign an apology . WHY ? Because my office staff was being beaten up , my office property was vandalised , I was abused and mocked at and most importantly my parents were forced to be a part of this and were being threatened unnecessarily .They were dragged into a gurudwara and My father was being reconsidered / was in double opinion to be elected as a gurudwara chairperson . My business was shut down for straight two month! All this for a mere expression of ART ? Well i made a choice ! And CLEARLY NOTHING STOPPED ME THEN and NOW ! Why I choose to bring this up today is because I am not afraid anymore and I want to motivate and encourage dreamers and visionaries to keep pushing , no matter what . Against all the odds , you rise ! . . #paramsahib #illustrator #illustration #mensfashion #mens #menswear #illustratorsoninstagram #art #artistsoninstagram #artist #lgbtart #lgbt #gay #queer #beardeddragon #bearded #sikh #fashionblogger #fashiondesigner #eroticart #indian #international #delhi #delhifashion #gayart #groom #indiangroom #homo #gentleman #style

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3. Queer Clitoris (queerclitoris)

Another instagram page with some really cool illustrations. The follower count of the page does gross injustice to this otherwise lovely artist. “My illustrations are about queer love representation, queer people in general (their struggle), mental health and to create awareness regarding stigmatized and taboo issues like sex education, periods etc,” says the artist behind the page.

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This song is love ♥️ . . . . . . . .

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4. The Effeminare (the.effeminare)

The Effiminare is the art page of Anwesh Sahoo, who was Mr Gay World India 2016. Although Anwesh graduated with an Engineering Degree, his creative mind had him pursue a Masters in NIFT. This multi-talented person is an illustrator/graphic artist as well, and The Effeminare is where he shares his artwork. His page features the commissioned work he takes to design wedding cards/invites, as well as his work depicting queerness. “My work while started out as a representation of myself, and my understanding of gender, has over time become a manifestation of the people and their experiences shared with me. Of course my work still continues to be an exploration of gender, I love experimenting with gender in fact, but the more I interact with people, I feel more fulfilled, a little more complete, and I believe that’s where my art expands. It’s about us, and not me anymore,” he says.

5. Aravani Art Project (aravaniartproject)

Aravani Art Project is a collective movement working to enable the Transgender Community through Visual Arts, Socially inclusive experiments and Magic. The page features wall murals and paintings that are made by a large team of full time and part time artists. “Through our art we want people to know more about the community and create empathy (not sympathy) towards the people from the Transgender community. We also want to share that people from different communities are intellectual, talented, creative and are equal in many ways,” they said.

About their artwork and its message, they had the following to tell, “We want to make a bolder statement of us being present and existing against all odds. Our art also embraces the diversity, colours and culture that are very close to the community.”

6. Veer Misra (v.eird)

Veer is a 23 years old illustrator/graphic artists from Delhi. His work, apart from the queer themes, also features political commentary. About his illustrations, Veer says, “My work is somewhere between creating queer bodies that are intersectional between size, gender from a South Asian perspective and exploring queer mental health and what that can feel like.”

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chosen family.

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7. Anirban Ghosh (anirban_ghosh)

Anirban works as a user experience designer by day and as a visual artist by night. His work reflects both his queerness, as well social and political commentary. “My artworks range from the mundane to the militant,” says Anirban.

“The mundane ones explore the intersections of gender, sexuality and uneventful regularities of life. These are primarily my reflections on queer everyday lives where the personal is also political, he explains. “My militant works are more confrontational in nature and primarily triggered by anger and a grave sense of injustice. I have been creating art, animations, short films and documentaries since my college days. More recently the Anti-CAA/NRC student protest movement pushed me to create a new series. Thereafter, as the lockdown began and our class inequalities and positions of privilege became even more stark, I’ve been working on my ‘Home’ series.”

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#polaroidsofpride . Manorama was born as Manohar in the Mehsana district of Gujarat. As a child, she had heard stories of how the spirit of the Goddess possesses human beings and transforms them completely. She realized her own true spirit was that of a woman, trapped in a male body. The boys of the mohallah gave her various titles – liti, mitha, chhakka, gur etc. However, she never let these verbal (and sometimes physical) attacks bother her, for she knew, one day she too will be blessed by the Goddess. . And it happened. On a full moon night in the month of Chaitra, the Goddess entered her body and told her to embrace her femininity. For a month, she did not speak and ate only an apple everyday. There was a glow in her face, which the elders in the mohallah confirmed is a divine one. Her family dropped their plans of getting her forcefully married to a woman and folded their hands in prayer. The catcalls stopped for good and some of her bullies came home to touch her feet and asked for forgiveness. In one such visit, Manorama broke her silence for the first time, “I forgive you. There are others like me. Respect them too.” . . . #humansofpride #newseries #friends #digitalpainting #digitalart #illustration #characterdesign #art #artistsoninstagram #instaart #instaillustration #queer #artistsofinstagram #pride #memories #india #queen #trans #LGBTQ #family #oneofthem #transrights #incredibleindia #transwoman#Aravani #mythology #indialgbt #humanrights

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8. Arzoo (arzoodles)

Arzoo is a non binary femme artist living in Bombay. She creates artworks based on my feelings, puns, politics, comics, and social justice. A lot of the artwork on her page celebrates trans and non-binary identities, to which she says, “I absolutely embrace my queer identity in every way possible, it’s self care honestly. You’ll always find something queer in my artworks. A flag being represented somewhere or some queer pun somewhere even if the whole artwork is not queer themed.” Sadly, this openness has at times cost her her work. “Not abiding to society’s cishetero-normative standards, unfortunately comes with a price even in 2020. I have been denied freelance commission work in the past for being who I am and I’m terrified that it’ll happen again. The world would be a better place if we embrace the diversity.”

9. Jasjyot Singh Hans (jasjyotjasjyot)

Jasjyot is an Indian illustrator drawing and teaching in Baltimore currently, who is inspired by an explosive neon mix of fashion, music and pop culture. His work chronicles around themes of body image, gender and identity and feature voluptuous men and women, and queer Sikhs too.

10. Opashona Ghosh (opashona)

Opashona’s page features illustrations that explores (female) sexuality and body through erotica and art. “Art for me is not about expressing, rather grounding myself in the exploration of knowledge. The ridiculous journey of trying to find my visual language with patience, love and critical approach has been most transformative in present continuous,” says Ghosh to Homegrown Website.

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@retardmagazine x @yourmomsberlin 💕

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Sukhdeep Singh