The Mapping Online readings were incredibly informative and helpful in thinking of ideas for our final project. Queer is in the Eye of the Newcomer introduces various concepts around race, sexuality, and gender identity. Many of the refugees were from areas around the Middle East and it’s important to remind ourselves that not “all Muslims are homophobic,” (5). Reading the stories of Aamil and Samantha are essential to getting a more holistic picture of LGBTQ discrimination and queer experiences. Modern day LGBTQ narratives are normally incredibly westernized and leave out people of color. There is a lack of representation and conversation around the intersexuality of race, culture, religion, sexuality, and gender identity.
Growing up as a South Asian American, I’ve found that there is not a lot of South Asian LGBTQ representation or visibility, in media or in the movement. This can be incredibly disheartening to queer South Asian people as it can be isolating, like discussed in the reading.
My good friend, Sam Alavi is a strong social justice activist that currently attends UC Davis. Her work addresses concepts brought up in the reading. She’s created Project Hambastegi, a multi-media project around the intersectionality of sexuality and gender identity in Middle Eastern and South Asian Communities.
Project Hambastegi, which means ‘solidarity’ in Persian, is a photo project engaging members of Middle Eastern, Muslim, and South Asian (MEMSA) communities. Through the generous support of The HAND Foundation and Iranian Alliances Across Borders (IAAB), Project Hambastegi aims to create dialogue around sexuality and gender, allow those who experience homophobia and transphobia to express to their communities how that discrimination impacts them, and let allies show support for LGBT identifying members of MEMSA communities.
Participants respond to the prompt: “What do you want to tell your community about homophobia and transphobia?”
This project was Sam’s way of creating conversation and visibility about sexuality and gender identity in her community. Illustrating that Middle Eastern and South Asian people support the LGBTQ community is necessary in breaking down preconceived notions that these communities do not.
Here are some of the images from the Project:
What are your thoughts about the projects and some of these photos?
For more information, more photos, click here.