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We were thrilled to have Alireza Shojaian back on the podcast after his last episode three years ago! Alireza is an artist from Iran, previously in Beirut, and currently based in Paris whose work pushes boundaries in representation of queer bodies and sexuality.  He discusses his veggie drawing series, made during a period of identity questioning, and the line between gay and trans identities in the Iranian framework. He also explains the instances of censorship he’s still experienced presenting queer work in the US and France, due to Iranian authorities exerting “soft power” abroad and Western presenters neglecting to stand…
Layla EO is a Jordanian-American artist, self taught illustrator, and overall creative, raised in Texas, currently living in Chicago, offering a more vibrant take on the world.  Layla talks about using her bold color palette as an alternative to the infamous yellow filter usually used to portray our home countries in Hollywood. Many of her illustrations feature queer, SWANA, and other POC subjects, allowing a wide range of people to imagine themselves through a lens of joy and beauty. As Layla discusses her love for drag, we all recount our own dabblings as drag kings and queens. We also talk…
Amal Amer (they/them) is a transdisciplinary artist, writer, and facilitator of SWANA descent currently based in California. Through visual media, performance, and collective storytelling, they explore the tension between rootedness and movement in diaspora. Amer’s work reinterprets symbols and stories from SWANA cosmologies, holding space for queer and trans folks to transform and heal. Weaving together magic, spirituality, desire, displacement, and state violence, their work colorfully trans*cends gender and media boundaries. Blessed with the gift of traveling between worlds, they move between organizing spaces, nightclubs, institutions, friends’ couches, and star-storied spirit and plant realms. Their solo show, i love you…
Ahmad Ray is a queer activist and creator from Palestine, currently living in Canada and building a following on TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube. Ranging from light to serious, their content focuses on glimpses of queer Arab life, Palestinian liberation, and social taboos within their communities. This episode focused on Ahmad’s challenges since immigrating to Canada and their experience becoming an online creator. They explain how they’ve navigated hate from Zionists, heteronormative Palestinians, and privileged members of the Arab diaspora, as well as the suppression of pro-Palestinian content on social media platforms. However, they have also received an overwhelming amount of…
Eman Abdelhadi is a second generation Palestinian-Egyptian academic, activist, and artist based in Chicago, IL. She’s also the subject of the upcoming documentary Coming Around, which follows her close and evolving relationship with her mother over the past six years, including Eman’s decision to come out as queer. Eman discussed what it was like to have intimate moments of her life documented, the importance of representing both herself and her mother outside a binary lens of good and bad, and the subversion of the singular coming out story most prominent in Western media.  Eman also talked about coming into the…
Samer Ghrawi is a Palestinian/Syrian-American musical artist based in California. With musical influences including Gospel, Soul, RnB, Arab pop, and older Arab music, his work sheds light on emotional struggles that are often swept under the rug.   Samer tells us about growing up gay in a strict Christian environment and Arab in an overwhelmingly white school, falling in love with RnB music as a “guilty” pleasure, experiencing conversion therapy, and eventually repairing his relationship with his parents. He also discusses the unspoken prevalence of alcoholism and addiction in both Arab and queer cultures, his own to sobriety and recovery, and…
Tarek Mohamed (TT) is an Egyptian activist, scholar and writer currently pursuing a PhD in Anthropology at UC Irvine. We were thrilled to have Tarek back after his first episode in June 2020! Tarek discussed the time he spent in Egypt since our first conversation, and his concern over the shift in the political climate there. He noted a rise of military nationalism and American-style neocolonialism, and how pandemic conditions have helped fuel this trajectory. Tarek mentioned several projects coming up under his creative studio House of TT, including a graphic novel called “36 Love Letters to my Dead Abusive…
Caitlin Abadir-Mullally (kt) is a Coptic-American installation and social practice artist based in Philadelphia. She works to create communities for those who live between spaces. Her research dives into fear, hybridity, queerness, collective thinking, grief, and cultural loss. Caitlin Abadir-Mullally works in sculpture, performance, and relationship building. Caitlin Abadir-Mullally is pursuing a master’s degree in library and information science with a focus in archival studies. She is passionate about documenting diasporic queer Southwest Asian and North Afrikan joy and complexity, and the agency of the living to decide how their narratives are preserved. We were so excited to have Caitlin…
We wrapped up 2021 with a wonderful conversation with Mikey Amman, fellow Capricorn, who is working in higher ed; we talked about the importance of filling the roles of educators with people who will advocate for, and relate to, the students they serve.  We discussed the challenges of navigating that system as a queer Arab; we also touched on finding the balance between honoring our queerness and staying in touch with our cultures in meaningful, fulfilling ways. Additionally, Mikey told us about the Britney fan group he started (the largest Facebook group for Britney fans!) and the community so many…
Rolla Selbak is a Palestinian-American filmmaker, writer, and director whose work has pushed boundaries of representation for Arab, Muslim, and queer characters. We were so excited to have her back to catch up since her first episode, right at the beginning of the pandemic. Rolla’s recent projects include the short film “Finjan” (which you can watch online now) and “Ya Bint”, a dramedy TV series co-created with Dina Shihabi (currently in the works). Rolla discussed the new experience of writing for a producer’s studio after working in the indie scene and adapting to expectations about what mainstream audiences might want…
Raed Rafei is a Lebanese filmmaker, researcher, and multimedia journalist, currently pursuing a PhD in film and digital media at the University of California, Santa Cruz. It was a joy to have Raed back on the podcast after meeting him at the exhibit Mark for Redaction 3(!) years ago! We discussed Raed’s academic research on queer Lebanese filmmakers, focusing on perspectives that go beyond frameworks of identity politics and individual rights, and see queer communities at the forefront of broader political change.  We also talked about his first feature film “The Reconstitution of a Struggle” about the 1974 student occupation…
Mariam Bazeed is a nonbinary Egyptian immigrant, writer, editor, spoken word artist, performer, and cook living in Brooklyn. An alliteration-leaning writer of prose, poetry, plays, and personal essays, Mariam received their MFA in Fiction from Hunter College. Their work in all genres is in print and online, and their plays have been presented in festivals in the U.S. and abroad. Mariam joined us to talk about their start as an writer, their recent dive into poetry, reconnecting with family after extended separation, the joys and challenges of making personal work public, and writing bilingually for the first time.  Their new…
Pedro (project coordinator of The Love Tank’s London-based Queer Migrant Men Project) and Ali (volunteer with the project) joined us for this week’s episode!  The QMM project was developed in response to the wide information gap in London among migrants, causing difficulty accessing sexual health services.  When migrants don’t know the language, their rights, or about the free services available in the country, it becomes impossible for them to prevent and/or treat STIs and HIV. This is what inspired the decision to form the QMM project.  The project received funding by London Community Response this year, and now a small…
We’ve got a catchup episode with Ellie, Alia, and Nadia this week! We talk a little bit about our local disasters this week (Hurricane Ida and the new abortion laws in Texas). Then we need a mental break, so we play some hypothetical games (borrowed from the Just Between Us Podcast): “Would you stay with that cheater?” and “Are you a terrible parent?” Listen to find out how we would react to secret arranged marriages and whether we would tell our hypothetical kids that vegetables grow from jellybean seeds.
This week, Alia, Nadia, and Ellie joined to catch up with Armenian-Palestinian-American Artivist Aram Ronaldo, who you might remember from the “Land Back episode.” This time, we focused on Aram’s work in theater, from the MENA-focused Golden Thread Productions in the Bay Area, to the wonderfully queer “Camp Morning Wood: A Very Naked Musical” in New York. We discussed the logistics of theater reopening (naked or not), how alternative companies may be more adaptable to safe practices, and what aspects of virtual/hybrid performance are here to stay. Aram also talked about the challenges of shifting deep-seated beliefs from anti-vaxing to…
Fadl Fakhouri is a Palestinian-American visual and multidisciplinary artist, currently based in NYC and pursuing an MFA at Columbia University. Their work considers borders of the state, identity, and interpersonal relationships in an effort to undo their oppressive nature, and sometimes includes film, installation, performance, and rocks.  Fadl joined us (in person!) to talk about pursuing art “seriously” after working in the medical field, their recent trip to Palestine, and their in-progress work “What the Fuck is Tel Aviv?” We also talked about contending with privilege and trauma in artmaking  and embracing problematic moments as part of the way to…
Fatima Elie, who goes by @fatimaelie is a Toronto based, Lebanese queer artist and film photographer. Her work, often documentary in style, showcases her love for her heritage and the world around her often seeing things others overlook. She is also a multidisciplinary artist who enjoys experimenting  with the art of Arabic calligraphy along with mixed media. The goal of her project in October is to highlight the beautiful stories of the people living in Lebanon, she wants to capture stories, share them with the world, and give back to the community and those that have participated in the project. On this episode,…
Alia and Nebal (thank you Nebal for guest co-hosting!) got to talk to author Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi about her newly released novel Savage Tongues!  The novel examines gender constructs in Islam and the West, and the intersections of sexual desire and violence amidst the ongoing subjugation of the Middle East to imperialism. In the book, she argues for queer intellectual exchange and female friendship as alternative structures to oppose patriarchy, heteronormativity, and the imposed religious, racial, and ethnic homogeneity of nationalism. In addition to talking about the novel itself, we discussed shared experiences navigating coming from a mixed…
This week we have an unfiltered, unedited personal episode with Nadia, Alia, and Ellie in the spirit of last year’s InsecuriTEA series. We discuss our thoughts on the label “activist,” the need for psychological realism in leftist organizing, and our feelings of political, personal, professional, and podcast burnout. We also discuss our respective job instabilities and new directions (Alia’s starting a coding bootcamp!), Nadia’s recent trip to Lebanon, post(?)-pandemic dating struggles, and finding the balance between spending time with aging family members and living our messiest lives.
This week Ellie, Alia, and Nadia discuss some of the lesser-known dealings of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, such as his massive investment in the video game company SNK. Why does this matter? These “soft-power” moves ensure that international corporations will pressure their governments not to sanction Saudi Arabia – despite the state’s human rights violations and destruction in Yemen. We also discuss MBS’s serpentine rise to power and his history of associations with American celebrities. Listen for the political analysis – stay for some sleep-deprived tangents. Photo from The Verge, edited by Nadia 😉 https://t.co/TeyIHSmkG3?fbclid=IwAR3JE7M-rfwgTUZeGo8KxpdrkA8nuJBstBpma82Yh8uFlUhn2b-w4NmEZlg
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