This past summer was the most enlightening learning period in my life. Not only did I learn that cats have 32 muscles in each ear, but I also learned that LGBQ & T* issues today, especially in the South Asian context, have common threads that make individual stories relatable to the broader community. Through SAALT’s Young Leaders Institute, I was able to spend three days with twelve brilliant people from across the United States learning about LGBTQ issues and allyship. Throughout the weekend, we participated in many workshops, trainings, and discussions all focused on making individual voices heard and recognizing each story’s importance. One session that still stands out in my mind was on the second day of training, when we all sat around a table and told stories that deeply impacted the way we approached our LGBTQ identities. Through each story, there was a reoccurring red flag: when trying to explain a queer identity to family (especially in a different language), there were often no specific words or phrases available in that language to describe the identity and experience. Also, many stated that it may have helped their coming out process had they been able to see and hear positive portrayals of LGBTQ South Asian Americans in the media and in their communities.
This session further inspired my Institute project and confirmed for me its critical need. In order to provide tech savvy and modern LGBTQ youth a place to see South Asian queers and allies on screen, fellow YLI participant Sumon Ray and I decided to create a web-series about LGBTQ South Asian siblings living in the United States called “The Queerious Kapoors.” The story revolves around a brother and sister who are both queer and live with their parents. One of them is out of the closet while the other isn’t…yet. We hope to provide a place where queer and questioning South Asians can see themselves in this story, a situation they may one day face, if they are not facing it already. Mainstream media already does a poor job of displaying queer people in a non-stereotypical light, and, even then, the actors are mainly Caucasian. In theory, this web series will be a “day in the life” portrayal of a pair of siblings who are born and raised in the U.S., are queer, and are trying to live life like everyone else. It is my hope that we are able to reach parents as well because, as I mentioned earlier, some South Asian parents who already don’t like to talk about culturally taboo subjects with their children also don’t know the necessary language to understand that their child is queer. Through acting, I think there is a lot that can be said about attraction, love, and the pain it creates when those closest to you don’t understand what you are going through.
We hope to build bridges between generations and make communicating about LGBTQ issues easier for those in the future.
My YLI peers and SAALT staff taught me so much in those three days. Their journeys serve as a daily reminder of how much work there is to be done in this world. *****************
Georgia State University