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Tag: queerswana

Episode 205 [in English]: Hayati

( See a walkthrough of Noor’s exhibit here! Hayati – My Life/My Love )

Noor Aldayeh is a visual artist from Los Angeles, California. She is an Honors Film and Media student at Emory University minoring in Women’s, Gender and Sexuality studies, and acts as a student photographer for the Office of Belonging Community and Justice at the university. Our conversation centered around Noor’s thesis project ​​”Hayati (حياتي) – My Life / My Love,” an archive of queer, Middle Eastern and North African women and gender non-conforming-individuals across the US photographed alongside their personal safe spaces. 

Noor discusses what drew them to this subject matter, observing exploitative tropes of orientalist photography and, conversely, finding role models in other SWANA woman artists. She explains how she approaches photography in a way that maximizes the subject’s autonomy and consent. Noor also mentions how this project has been a conduit for finding community in multiple cities–something they weren’t able to access easily in their upbringing and college career–and how they plan to continue the work after graduation.

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Episode 203 [in English]: Rayan Afif

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 spacesincluding a mana’eesh cafe and queer SWANA drag raceand 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!

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