Coming back with another exciting feature of the Trailblazers series, where we focus on individuals of our family who spread their wings and took off towards heights previously unthought of and uncharted. In this feature we will be writing about another graduate of the second batch of our Literary Fellowship program, Fatema Bhaiji.
Her Journey through the World of Words:
Before she joined our fellowship though, she had already made herself known and left a mark on us, by participating in and becoming one of the top finalists of The Stories Untold season two. Her story, titled “Holding her Hand”, was in perfect accordance with the theme of our story writing competition, “A War Within”. Fatema, in her book, addressed very boldly the dilemma of having feelings for an individual of the same gender, the havoc it causes on our emotions and inner stability, all the while living in a society which in no way tolerates this. Her book was put up for crowdfunding, and through the help of our community, was brought to print.
With this booming introduction, Fatema came to join the Editorial department of our fellowship program. Halfway through the program, while she was also pursuing her engineering degree in Sri Lanka, she came to the team with her idea of forming a queer lit magazine targeted towards the South Asian community that zeroed in on increasing the visibility of the LGBTQ+ community through art, poetry and stories.
In the beginning of the fellowship, the graduates were encouraged to pursue projects of their own and full support on behalf of Daastan was promised to them. When the time came, despite all the criticism and hate that was thrown at the team for powering a magazine of a community otherwise ostracized by all, Daastan stood strong. And so, the Outcast magazine ‘came out’ – its website was launched a little over a month after the idea was rolled out, and its first digital issue came out just a month later.
Acclaim and Applause:
Outcast Magazine was later on endorsed by a global platform, i.e. Commonwealth Writers, and conducted an extension of our Stories Untold Season 4 on their forum, encouraging those from the LGBTQ+ community to put to words any abuse they might have faced, directly or indirectly. Outcast went on to announce a Micro Fiction competition of their own in collaboration with Daastan and White Falcon Publishing, and released their first issue in print the very next year. Fatema was invited to many events as a speaker, one of which was “Salzburg Global Forum” held in Nepal and powered by UNDP.