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Queering Desi: Season 2, Episode 9: Sameer Jha

Updated: Jun 28, 2019

In honor of Pride month, we're celebrating with brand new episodes every week!

This week, Priya chats with Sameer Jha about their journey as a queer and trans youth activist.

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.

Charmaine, left, with her child, Sameer.

About the guest:

17-year-old Sameer Jha has been named one of the top 10 trans youth activists of color in America. After being bullied throughout middle school, Sameer founded The Empathy Alliance to make schools safer for LGBTQ+ youth. Sameer educates on LGBTQ+ topics through keynotes, workshops, op-eds, radio shows, panels and events throughout the year and has reached more than one million people across America with his message of love and empathy. He has collaborated on special projects and campaigns with the ACLU, the Anti-Defamation League, the Human Rights Campaign, GLAAD, GSA Network, The Tyler Clementi Foundation, Trikone, GLSEN, Frameline, and the City of Oakland.

As a half-Indian, half-Pakistani queer person, Sameer also does a lot of work to remove the stigma around being an LGBTQ+ youth in South Asian and other immigrant communities. His work has been featured in New York Magazine, NPR, MTV News, Logo NewNowNext, Man Repeller, Youth Radio, HuffPost, Mashable, Mercury News, Bay Area Reporter, SFGate, and more. In 2017, he was honored to be the Youth Grand Marshal for Oakland Pride, the nation's most diverse pride event with over 50,000 participants. He recently released a new book called "Read This, Save Lives!" to inspire educators to create safer schools for LGBTQ+ youth.

You can follow Sameer and their work on, you can find their book here, and find them on Twitter @SameerJha2001.

[Queering Desi logo: Nafeesa Alibhai and Sabina Pang]


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