‘Beyond the butterfly swords’ is an illustration made to represent and express lesbian relationships. I work with Aajeevika Bureau in the Banswara district to nurture women’s collectives in the region. I decided to make a strong but simple and basic art piece on lesbian love after a number of questions during our training on gender and sexual identity.
During the training, the participants expressed that they can imagine the relationship of a gay couple. But it is beyond their imagination to understand the relationship of a lesbian couple. The same concern arose in the training sessions again and again with different groups of participants.
I realized that there is a lack of exposure to real-life stories, media content, artworks, etc of non-binary gender identities. Due to this, they are unable to connect and understand the relationship and the emotions of different sexual identities. This inspired me to make this art piece. This helped me to explain different sexual identities and attractions in relationships better to a community.
There is a necessity to strengthen queer visibility in Indian art pieces. Especially, in those pieces reaching the communities which lack exposure to gender-inclusive art content. Including stories with representative artworks can contribute a lot to inclusive teaching in such training on gender and sexuality. The inclusion of multiple identities instead of repeated presentation of gender binary characters in stories is also important to address this gap in artistic representations.