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Queering Desi

Author: Queering Desi

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Queering Desi is a podcast that celebrates the unique experiences of South Asian LGBTQ+ people. In each episode, a guest will chat with long-time community activist and writer, Priya Arora, about their journey and what it means to be true to who you are.

To help us share our stories in our own words, and take the burden of representation off each individual, this podcast aims to be a breeding ground for discussion and a platform for being loud and proud, no matter who you are!

(Production: Precision Podcasting; Music: Chetan Davdra; Art: Nafeesa Alibhai and Sabina Pang)
39 Episodes
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On this episode, Priya talks to Chef Navin Hariprasad and his husband, Andrew Pettke. The two, along with their friend Sarah Hartshorne, formed team Mystikka Masala and won The Great Food Truck Race, Season 12!Navin and Andrew open up about their relationship and their unique wedding (including a drag queen minister!) Navin also shares what drag means to him, as well as how he fell in love with cooking. The two talk about their journey as restauranteurs, and what it was like to bring their Indian/Tex-Mex flare to The Great Food Truck Race. The two also share the experience of bringing Navin's drag alter ego, Mystikka Masala, into the competition, as well as the warm response and outpouring of support they received. Finally, Navin and Andrew play a rapid-fire round and unveil their social media habits on Instagram vs. Reality!
On this episode, Priya talks to a panel of three queer South Asian artists about their work and how the arts have been affected by the pandemic: Bhumi Patel, an artist, activist and dancer; Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, a visual artist, performer and curator; and Ashok Sinha, a board member of the India Center Foundation, which started the South Asian Arts Resiliency Fund to assist U.S.-based South Asian arts workers.Bhumi and Zulfikar talk about their art, including how their experiences have informed their work and how this crisis has affected them. Ashok adds perspective on ICF, and why this fund was created. Later, all three weigh in on how we can support queer artists, and the arts, during and after these difficult times. For more information about our guests, this fund, and other resources for our communities, please visit our website: queeringdesi.comSeason 3 of Queering Desi is brought to you by Bakwaas Apparel. Use this episode's special promo code (ARTS15) to get 15% off any order!Join the movement, be Bakwaas.
On this episode, Priya chats with Dinesh Patel, a cook, pastry chef and finalist of "MasterChef India" Season 5.Dinesh shares his earliest memories of being in the kitchen and how he fell in love with cooking. Later, Priya asks about how Dines ended up on the show, and what his favorite part of the experience was. Later, the two chat about doing work in our communities to challenge stereotypes of LGBTQ+ people and the undue pressure on coming out. Finally, the two play a MasterChef-themed rapid-fire round and "Instagram vs. Reality."You can follow Dinesh on Instagram (@dineshpatel.ofc), Twitter (@dineshpatelofc) and Facebook. For his full bio, visit our website.Season 3 of Queering Desi is brought to you by Bakwaas Apparel. Use this episode's special promo code (DP15) to get 15% off any order!Join the movement, be Bakwaas.
How does this pandemic disproportionately affect marginalized communities? What can we do to protect ourselves? How can we support health care workers? On this episode, Priya chats with Dr. Musaub Khan, a queer Muslim Pakistani-American physician in New York. Musaub shares how the virus has spread and what he's seeing on the frontlines at his hospital. He also offers tips for staying safe, and shatters some myths about the virus, including how it's transmitted, its effect on younger people and more.For more resources, visit our website: www.queeringdesi.com/resourcesSeason 3 of Queering Desi is brought to you by Bakwaas Apparel. Use this episode's special promo code (MK15) to get 15% off any order! Join the movement, be Bakwaas.
On this episode, Priya chats with Nakul Dev Mahajan, an award-winning Bollywood choreographer best known for his 12 years of choreography on "So You Think You Can Dance."The two begin talk about "So You Think..." and the journey that led Nakul to open NDM Bollywood Dance Studios, one of the most popular Bollywood dance schools in the U.S. He opens up about his earliest memories of dance and talks about the cultural reckoning he faced in pursuit of it. Later, he shares what it was like coming out after establishing himself as a leading dance teacher in the community and the two do a deep dive about Karan Johar and the LGBTQ idols they wish they had. Finally, Nakul talks about his work on the new Disney Junior show, "Mira: Royal Detective" and the two play a Bollywood-themed rapid-fire round and "Instagram vs. Reality."You can follow Nakul (@nakuldevmahajan) on Instagram and Twitter.For his full bio, visit our website.Season 3 of Queering Desi is brought to you by Bakwaas Apparel. Use this episode's special promo code (NDM15) to get 15% off any order! Join the movement, be Bakwaas.
On this special bonus episode, we talk to Amrit Kapai, one of the cast members of Bravo's brand-new reality show, "Family Karma." The show follows the lives of seven young Indian-Americans as they navigate the pressures of adulthood, while maintaining deep-rooted ties to their culture.Amrit, who identifies as gay, talks to Priya about what it was like to come out in such a close-knit community, how his parents took the news, and most importantly, why he felt that being a part of this show was important. Later, he plays a special "Family Karma" rapid-fire round and shares advice he would give his younger self!Be sure to catch the debut of "Family Karma" on Sunday, March 8 at 9 p.m. Eastern, only on Bravo! For more information about Amit and "Family Karma," visit our website.
On this episode, we welcome Amir & Aamir, a gay South Asian married couple and the hosts of the "You Don't Love Me" podcast.Priya opens the conversation with Amir & Aamir talking about their experiences as queer people of color in New York City and the U.K., as well as around the world. They also share how they met and fell in love, as well as why they started the podcast. Later, they share details from their recent event with London's Club Kali, the longest-running South Asian LGBTQ+ party. Finally, they share advice they'd give their younger selves, and then play some games!Season 3 of Queering Desi is brought to you by Bakwaas Apparel. Use this episode's special promo code (AA10) to get 10% off any order! Join the movement, be Bakwaas.
On this episode, Priya chats with Rav Bansal, a former contestant on The Great British Bakeoff.Rav opens up about what it was like to come out publicly last year, and what it meant to come to terms with his sexuality as a Sikh man. Later, the two chat about Bake Off and Rav shares what his experience was like on the show as well as how baking is still part of his life. Later, the two play a fun, baking-themed rapid-fire round and Priya's latest favorite game, "Instagram vs. Reality"!Season 3 of Queering Desi is brought to you by Bakwaas Apparel. Use this episode's special promo code (RB10) to get 10% off any order! Join the movement, be Bakwaas.
In this episode, Priya chats with Kareem Khubchandani, an assistant professor at Tufts University and performance artist also known as LaWhore Vagistan. The two chat about drag and performance art in queer South Asian spaces, and Kareem opens up about his own experiences and research on the subject. Later, he talks about his upcoming book, "Ishtyle: Accenting Gay Indian Nightlife." Finally, the two play a few games, including a rapid fire round and Instagram vs. Reality!Season 3 of Queering Desi is brought to you by Bakwaas Apparel. Use the promo code "KK10" to get 10% off any order! Join the movement, be Bakwaas.
On this week’s episode, Priya talks to Shiva Raichandani, the principal dancer and lead instructor of London School of Bollywood! You may also recognise him from Britain's, India's and France’s Got Talent.The two talk about everything from expressing gender in dance and problematic representations in Bollywood, to Shiva’s own forthcoming short film, “Queer Parivaar,” based on an interfaith queer South Asian romance. Later the two play a fun rapid-fire round, and Priya debuts a new game called "Instagram vs. Reality"!Season 3 of Queering Desi is brought to you by Bakwaas Apparel. Listen to this episode for a special promo code and get 10% off any order! Join the movement, be Bakwaas.
On the season 3 premiere, Priya chats with actress Sonam Kapoor. The two talk about "Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga," a Bollywood film released earlier this year in which Sonam plays a lesbian who struggles to come out to her family.The two chat about why LGBTQ activism is so close to Sonam's heart, what it was like to shoot the film and its box office and critical reception. Later, Priya asks Sonam about topics affecting Bollywood, including the (somewhat stalled) #MeToo movement and the gender pay gap. Finally, Sonam talks about her latest film, Zoya Factor, which is now available on Netflix.Season 3 of Queering Desi is brought to you by Bakwaas Apparel. Listen to this episode for a special promo code and get 10% off any order! Join the movement, be Bakwaas.
12: YaliniDream

12: YaliniDream

2019-08-2101:13:55

On the season finale of Queering Desi, Priya chats with YaliniDream, a Ilankai Tamil Blood, Manchester-Born, Texas-Bred and Brooklyn-Brewed storyteller and spiritual creator who blends poetry, theater, dance and song, with expertise in integrating arts and organizing.Yalini shares their inspiration for the work they do, and how they see it as a facilitation between the Earth and Sky. They talk about their early experiences around faith and intangible forces, and how the pressure to assimilate impacted them. Yalini also talks about ancestral trauma how their ability to connect with the power of ancestors helped them recognize the colorism, racism and social conditioning that impacted them. Priya asks how queerness and sexuality intersected with Yalini's journey, and Yalini talks about being able to be present with their own desires. Later, Yalini shares advice for her younger self and Priya and Yalini delve into the casteism and anti-blackness rampant in the South Asian community.
11: Sundeep Morrison

11: Sundeep Morrison

2019-08-0933:13

On this episode, Priya talks to Sundeep Morrison, a queer Punjabi Sikh writer, actress, director, author and activist. Priya asks Sundeep about what drives her art, and Sundeep shares her experience with the Oak Creek shooting. The two chat about the aftermath, and the ways that racism still affects them post-9/11. Sundeep shares how she turned this story into "Rag Head," her one woman show, and her connection to the Sikh faith. The two then talk about their experiences with gender and sexuality in South Asian spaces and not feeling "queer" enough. Later, they talk about spirituality, and the perpetuation of patriarchal structures in religious spaces.[Content warning: This episode mentions assault around the 25:40 mark.]Don't forget to tune in to Sundeep's radio show, Deep Talks, every Wednesday at 4pm Eastern/1pm Pacific (followed by Queering Desi at 5pm Eastern/2pm Pacific) on Rukus Avenue Radio. You can follow Sundeep on Instagram (@sundeepmorrison). For more information and her full bio, visit queeringdesi.com.
10: Sikh Knowledge

10: Sikh Knowledge

2019-07-1039:34

On this episode, Priya chats with Sikh Knowledge, a producer/DJ from Montreal. Priya asks Sikh about his beats, and he shares how world music blended together in his early musical influences. The two chat about what it means for all our identities come together and shape our work, and Sikh shares the way he incorporates flavors of his narratives into his music. Later, Sikh talks about how creating has become a tool to heal, and how his queerness intersects with Sikhism and Punjabi culture. Priya also asks what it takes as a DJ to curate inclusive spaces, and Sikh shares how he strives to bring his full self to each performance. The two wrap up with a rapid-fire style round of questioning about Sikh’s early music inspirations, his favorite track, mental health, and his advice for his younger self.[Content warning: This episode mentions suicidal ideation towards the end, around the 34-minute mark.]You can follow Sikh Knowledge on SoundCloud, or across all social media, @sikhknowledge. For his full bio and links to his work, visit queeringdesi.com.
9: Sameer Jha

9: Sameer Jha

2019-06-2651:36

In this episode, Priya chats with Sameer Jha, a queer and trans youth activist. Sameer talks about why their advocacy centers around schools and how educational system can be more inclusive of queer and trans youth. Sameer opens up about bullying and their journey in supportive spaces at a new school to embark on their own journey. Priya then asks Sameer about the negative stereotypes they faced within the South Asian community, and Sameer shares signs they received that made them feel ashamed and ways they internalized that shame. The two talk about the lack visibility of LGBTQ+ people that goes hand in hand with silence in South Asian communities, and how that presented as hurdles with gender identity and gender expression in these contexts. Priya then asks about Sameer's journey coming out to themselves and their parents and how they explored the labels around their identities and gender expression. Later, Sameer talks about founding The Empathy Alliance, a non-profit that worked with schools to make them more inclusive, and why they wrote the book "Read This, Save Lives!" aimed at inspiring educators to create safer schools for LGBTQ+ youth. Finally, Priya asks Sameer how the South Asian community can support LGBTQ+ youth and how we can further narratives that don't just center marginalized identities.
8: Charmaine Hussain

8: Charmaine Hussain

2019-06-2653:44

In this episode, Priya chats with Charmaine Hussain, the proud mom of a queer and trans teenager. Charmaine talks about early childhood experiences for her child, Sameer, and the gender stereotypes that she fell into. Priya then asks about how Charmaine started to confront these assumptions, and Charmaine shares her initial reaction to Sameer's coming out. She opens up about how Sameer helped her navigate her questions and a pivotal experience that opened up their private journey to the public. Then, Charmaine shares how she overcame her fears about log kya kahenge, what people would say, and a truth that helped her realize that society can be more accepting than she thought. Later, Priya asks about how Charmaine developed an understanding about gender identity and Charmaine talks about societal standards of beauty, pronouns, and providing support to her child beyond labels. Finally, Charmaine shares what it was like to share Sameer's journey with her parents in Pakistan, and advice and resources for parents who may be going on a journey of their own. Charmaine ends with advice and an apology to South Asian children, then turns the question on Priya to ask what support they need.Be sure to also tune into Episode 9 with Charmaine's child, Sameer! You can find more information about this episode on www.queeringdesi.com.
7: Raj Kalra

7: Raj Kalra

2019-06-2051:45

In honor of Pride month, we're celebrating with brand new episodes every week!This week, Priya chats with Raj Kalra and talks weddings and parenting! Raj identifies in SO many ways: gay, Indian, and also a dad, husband, OG Lamb, television executive and producer, son, brother and 5x Fantasy Football Champion. The two start off by reflecting on what Pride means to them and why this year feels especially important. Then, Raj talks about his wedding in 2014, a celebration that brought together western, Indian and gay cultures. Priya follows suit, sharing details of their wedding last year, and the two reflect on what that kind of visibility means for them and the communities they grew up in. Later, Raj shares the journey of adopting his son, another first for his South Asian community, and the best part of being a parent.You can follow Raj on Instagram (@therajankalra) or Twitter (@RAJonline).For more information, visit www.queeringdesi.com!
6: Vishaal Reddy

6: Vishaal Reddy

2019-06-1338:41

In honor of Pride month, we're celebrating with brand new episodes every week!This week, we chat with Vishaal Reddy, the star and creator of the new limited series, "Insomnia," about a bisexual Indian man who moonlights as an escort. Vishaal talks about the real-life incident behind the inception of the show, and the lack of representation that drove him to write it. Priya and Vishaal discuss the (absence of) on-screen portrayal of South Asian sexuality and desirability, and Vishaal delves into the research behind depicting sex work on the show. Priya then asks about Vishaal's experiences as a bisexual man and how those inspired his character. Later, Vishaal talks about weaving various cultural aspects into the character, and what messages he hopes the audience takes from the show. The two wrap up with what Pride means to them now, Vishaal's advice for his younger self and unintentional (yummy!) dessert advice.You can follow Vishaal on Twitter (@ReddySetGo1) and Instagram (@reddy2rumble). For more information, visit www.insomniatheshow.com and www.queeringdesi.com
5: Fatimah Asghar

5: Fatimah Asghar

2019-06-0127:331

We're kicking off Pride month with several new episodes! First up, we have Fatimah Asghar, a poet, filmmaker, educator and performer. Priya asks Fatimah about Brown Girls, an Emmy-Nominated web series that highlights friendships between women of color. Later, they chat about Fatimah's debut book of poems, If They Come For Us, the elusive idea of home, and ancestral trauma. The episode wraps with Fatimah's advice to her younger self, and what's coming next for her.You can follow Fatimah on Twitter and Instagram (@asgharthegrouch) and learn more about her work at www.fatimahasghar.com. Full bio and show notes also available on www.queeringdesi.com!
In this week's episode, Priya talks to Nik Sharma, the writer, photographer, and food blogger behind A Brown Table. The two chat about Nik's early beginnings growing up in a bicultural household in India, from how he found his love for cooking to starting his own blog and switching careers. Nik shares the racism he faced through the early days of his blog, and how these experiences impacted him. Later, he talks about coming out as a gay man, representation, and how his identities influence his work. Finally, Priya asks Nik about his favorite foods, tips for whipping up a meal with whatever's left in the fridge, and his favorite recipes from his new cookbook, Season.
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