Where on the Web are the Queerious Kapoors?

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.

IMG_0088This 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. *****************

Lali­ta Bal­akr­ish­nan
Geor­gia State Uni­ver­si­ty