Shimmers of the Fabulous: Public Sex and Intimate Touch in Queer and Trans Bombay

Shimmers is a multi-sited ethnography of queer sexpublics—spaces for queer and trans intimacies, desire, and touch—across Bombay. Drawing on over 28 months of fieldwork, each of the manuscript’s five chapters unfolds a different site— nightlife, the police station, pride, virtual worlds, and home. Through interviews, participant observation, archival research, and virtual ethnography across each of these sites, the book explores how queer and trans lives might be lived outside of and against the reaches of cultural intelligibility and legal recognition. This project develops the analytic of the shimmer—ephemeral and coded moments of queer intimacy. Shimmers helps articulate the creative, erotic, and aestheticized strategies deployed by gender and sexual minorities to thrive in the spaces between risk and reward. A core project in this book is to retrain scholarly gazes toward sexual and gender minorities in the global South. By moving from courtrooms and clinics—which have emphasized queer and trans emergence in India through law, rights, and identity categories—to queer sexpublics, Shimmers explores desires to touch and be touched as crucial to queer and trans worldmaking. I am currently writing up this book manuscript and hope to have it out soon! See my writing page to read published research from this project.