Propaganda, the personal, and two calls for submissions

There’s been much justified indignation on my Facebook feed of late over Asmara Songsang, an absurdly embarrassing anti-LGBT musical produced with government money. I found Alia Ali’s review of the musical Oh, Inverted World useful — it includes pictures of the production as well as a synopsis of what could generously be called the plot.

Asmara Songsang, written and directed by Rahman Adam, is about the lives of the LGBT community encapsulated into a neat little microcosm. Three friends, who identify themselves as Nazirah, Latipah and Karim, lead a gang of queer delinquents. Headquartered in a public park conveniently situated between neighborhood homes and the mosque, they throw raucous parties that last through the night, fuelled by really loud music, substance abuse and casual sexual encounters.

(Obviously, don’t read the review if you don’t feel like reading about rampant homophobia!)

There’s some interesting discussion in the comments about whether the “objective” approach Alia is trying for in her review succeeds (she lists “good points” as well as “bad points”, though she clearly disapproves of the premise of the musical and says so). Personally I don’t think people like Rahman Adam, or agendas like his, deserve to be engaged with on their own terms, but from a tactical perspective I can see why Alia adopted the tack she took.

Coming at broadly the same subject from the opposite side, I liked Cris Beam’s discussion of their novel I Am J, about a trans* teenager: My transgender novel is too personal to be propaganda.

… literature, at its best, doesn’t live in this world of agendas and witch hunts, as tools for any side’s political purpose. Literature and its readers are in an alternate realm, and they’ll continue to meet in this quieter place.

MOTHERSHIP: Tales from Afrofuturism and Beyond is seeking submissions of original and reprinted genre material by, for and/or about persons of colour (not only stories that would count as Afrofuturism!). They’re interested in all flavours of speculative fiction and slipstream, and will take stories of any length from flashfic to novelettes. I understand it’s intended that contributors will eventually be paid, though there will be no advance. It looks like a really cool project — and the editors are non-white, which is still unusual in these days of cool anthologies seeking to collect the stories of those traditionally passed over. I’m pondering whether I’ve got anything suitable to send in, but in the meantime you should submit!

And Fixi Novo are still seeking submissions for their new anthology Love in Penang. The deadline is 30 April and they want love stories of all kinds set in Penang.

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