Rayan Afif is a multi-media artist and theater maker of Egyptian and Lebanese descent making work that envisions queer SWANA futures. Rayan discussed some of their visual art which depicts dream physical spaces—including a mana’eesh cafe and queer SWANA drag race—and the importance of online community spaces when physical ones are not available. They also described their journey into playwriting and some of their theater projects, including a play exploring the effects of the Beirut explosion on two sisters, a historical fiction piece about a queer Egyptian in the 1950s (researched by interviewing their grandmother and great-grandmother), and an interactive piece about trans community care.
Rayan is also a high school senior, so we talked about the particular challenges of high school activism and avoiding early burnout by focusing on joy. We also talked about how teachers and school staff can be most supportive to queer and trans students while also setting healthy boundaries around emotional labor.
This conversation gave us hope for the next generation (thanks Rayan), and we’re excited to see queer SWANA teens and young adults stepping into their creative powers!