We’re commemorating #PrideMonth2021 by featuring members of our QTAPA Subcommittee of AMP* starting with Raveena Bhalara (she/her).
APANO: What did you miss during quarantine?
RB: I miss dancing! Although my partner is the best dancer I know so we’ve had some sweet stay-at-home dance parties.
APANO: Did you have concerns about the vaccine? What made you want to get it?
RB: Being one of the last people in my friend group to get vaccinated I felt there was so much hype about who did or didn’t feel terrible after. I figured there’s only one way to find out!
APANO: Right! And when you do feel symptoms, it means your body is learning how to fight the virus. So in the case you do get COVID-19, the symptoms are way less severe and the chance of spread significantly goes down. So when you are fully vaccinated, what are you excited to do?
RB: I’ve been learning to tap dance during quarantine and I can’t wait to take a class in a real studio.
APANO: We love it! Any thoughts on how you’re going to celebrate Pride this year?
RB: I’m looking forward to all of the virtual events like panel discussions, happy hours, dance parties, and drag bingo. Now that I’m vaccinated I’ll also be on the lookout for safe outdoor events because to me, Pride is all about community and being around other queer folks.
APANO: What does Pride mean to you as an Asian American?
RB: I have spent the bulk of my gay adolescence and gay adult life not thinking holistically about my intersectional identity. I think because for so long I never saw any queer Indian-Americans represented in media or in my friend group. I held my different identities so separate. In the last few years however, I have found other BIPOC queer folks and even queer Asians and Pacific Islanders which has enabled me to be my full authentic self.
APANO: Finding queer kinfolk isn’t easy for many BIPOC. I’m glad you found that! So what do you think gets left out in Pride? What would it look like to change that?
RB: I think the history of Pride and the labor of activists like Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera often gets left out of the narrative. I want people (especially allies) to know that Pride is more than just a big month long party. It’s a continuous fight for LGBTQIA2S+ liberation.
Thanks Raveena! Btw — first time hearing Marsha P Johnson’s name? Need a refresher on Sylvia Rivera’s work? Watch the documentary “The Life and Death of Marsha P Johnson” on Netflix.
*The Queer/Trans Asian Pacific American Subcomittee of our Arts and Media Project! This is a subcommittee of Cultural Work’s group of Asian and Pacific Islander artists. Want to find community among other queer and trans Asians and Pacific Islanders? Email our Cultural Work Coordinator Roshani (she/her) at email@example.com to get involved with the QTAPA Subcommittee!
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