Ankur Paliwal

Founder and Managing Editor

I am an independent journalist. Let me quickly take you through why I started queerbeat.

A bit of background first. I have thirteen years of journalism experience. I love to tell stories, especially those that tackle questions of inequality and social justice. I am deeply interested in human condition, why people make the decisions they do and how those decisions are shaped by cultural and economic forces. Borrowing from William Blake, I believe the best stories are ones that help us see the world in a grain of sand.

I spent most of last decade traveling a lot. Immersed myself in stories. I wrote deeply-reported longform features about climate change and conflict, rare diseases and orphan crops, and queer and indigenous communities from India, Ethiopia, Ghana, Tanzania, Kenya, Germany and the United States for several publications including the Guardian, Nature, Scientific American and FiftyTwo. Many of these stories won awards including One World Media Award in 2023, AAAS Kavli Science Journalism Award in 2022, South Asian Journalists Association Award in 2022, and World Health Assembly Award in 2016. You can see my work here. I also got myself a master's degree in Science Journalism from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in New York.

Everything was going fine. I was contemplating moving to Senegal to report more from West Africa. But a question would often gnaw at me-- Are you making a real difference in people's lives? During the COVID-19 pandemic, as I spent more time at home, that voice became louder.

So, in the summer of 2021, I decided to slow down. I reflected on my work and asked myself, where can I contribute the most? My memory kept taking me back to my teenage years in Aligarh, a small town in northern India. I grew up in lower income and conservative household. Struggling to make sense of my gender and sexual identity, I looked for resources in the media, whether it was in the local newspaper or the television, but I couldn't find people like me. On rare occasions when I did, the representations were either tragic or comical. The message my young mind received was that I didn't want to be like"those people." Those representations also disserved my parents and my neighbors, by presenting queer people as "others."

By 2021, the representations of LGBTQIA+ people in the media had increased, relatively speaking. But there were three big problems-- the representations were still quite inaccurate, the narratives were old and repetitive, and mostly served the English speaking urban audience. There, I saw a gap in India's media ecosystem-- an opportunity to create change. Why don't I start a media platform dedicated to serving LGBTQIA+ people, I thought. A place where I could put my journalism experience and queer identity to good use. That is how queerbeat was born in 2022, with a mission to positively transform public conversation about LGBTQIA+ people through inclusive storytelling. You can read more about queerbeat's mission here.

We work with queer writers and artists, especially those who come from marginalized communities, and collaborate with other media outlets so that our stories reach a wider and diverse audience. Our next goal is to work with Hindi and regional language media outlets so that these stories can generate conversations in places where they are needed the most. This collaborative process will also gradually make the wider media ecosystem queer inclusive.

At queerbeat, we dream big and believe in our dreams. We are excited and committed to see queerbeat at the forefront of catalyzing narrative change about queer lives in India. We are just getting started !