Queer East


Sudarshan Belsare

Sudarshan Belsare [ watch video ]
Sudarshan Belsare is a Bharatanatyam (Indian Classical) dancer, actor, painter, and vocalist. He holds a Master's degree in Art Education from the Massachusetts College of Art, is a recipient of the Sahitya Kala Parishad (Government of India) Scholarship for advanced training and research in Indian classical dance, and was a nominee for Canada's prestigious Dora Award for Best Performer of 2007. His personal work is based on the expression of gender and sexuality in the rich tradition of classical Bharatanatyam. He is also a museum educator specializing in South Asian pre-colonial, post-colonial, and contemporary art at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts.
Jacob Smith Yang

Jacob Smith Yang [ watch video ]
Jacob Smith Yang is a gay Asian man and Boston-based queer activist. He serves as the Executive Director of Massachusetts Asian & Pacific Islanders (MAP) for Health and was a 2007 Boston Pride Marshal. Previously, he has worked at Gay Community News, Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, and the AIDS Action Committee. He is a Vice Chair of the Massachusetts Commission on GLBT Youth. He grew up in Central Massachusetts and attended Wachusett Regional High School (Class of 1985). He graduated from Brandeis University with a B.A. in English and American Literature.
Good Asian Drivers

Good Asian Drivers [ watch video ]
Kit Yan wants people to realize that being queer is more than OK; in fact, it’s hot. He uses humor and realism to accomplish this mission and leaves the audience begging for more.

Originally from Waipahu, Hawaii, Kit is a transgendered boi posing as a model queer minority to change the world through poetry. He has been slamming in the Boston slam scene since he was 18 and has won numerous slams all over Massachusetts. Kit was featured with nationally recognized poets like Jason Carney, Iyeoka Okoawo, Reggie Gibson and Michael Brown. Before the age of 21, he landed a spot in the Lizard Lounge national slam team, competed in the Individual World Poetry Slam, and won the world’s largest slam.

Kit fires up the audience by screaming in their faces about his personal experiences on identity, gender, politics, and cultural struggles, all the while retaining the status of being an all around nice guy. Kit has slammed and performed at colleges and schools including Harvard, Wellesley College, Babson College, UMaine, Colby, Tufts University, Olin College, and Northeastern University. Kit released his first CD, but is now working on revamping it to include his newly testosteroned voice.

Melissa Li is a fierce Asian-American lesbian singer-songwriter, who has performed in the Boston area for over 8 years. Her music is a mixture of folk rock and pop, with a hint of soul and a whole lot of queer, and heavily influenced by Ani DiFranco, Jonatha Brooke, Kris Delmhorst, Deb Talan, Melissa Ferrick, and a slew of other pop/rock/folk divas. Through deeply personal acoustic songs, often punctuated with a vocal style reminiscent of hip hop, Melissa rants about love, loss, and social injustices.

Melissa started performing in high school talent shows, developing songwriting skills and teaching herself the guitar at the age of 15. She performed wherever she could, starting from small coffeehouses, community groups and even in underground train stations. Since then, she’s carved a name for herself as one of the most talented and popular Asian-American performers in Boston. She has performed at the Brattle Theater, Somerville Theater, and Boston Pride main stage to an audience of hundreds. She has also performed in most colleges and universities across New England.

Most recently, she won the honorable Jonathan Larson Performing Arts Foundation award for her first musical Surviving the Nian, produced by The Theater Offensive in the Spring of 2007. Surviving the Nian is the story of a young woman who returns home to Hong Kong for Chinese New Year with her African-American lover. The unfolding of the family drama that ensues directly confronts stereotypes facing queers and Asians in mainstream society today.
Geeta Patel

Geeta Patel [ watch video ]
Geeta Patel is an associate professor for Women's Studies at Wellesley College. She joined the department in 1994 from the University of Iowa where she had served in the administration and also taught in the Department of Asian Literature and the Program in Comparative Literature.

Trained in South Asian studies, Geeta Patel teaches courses on South Asian gender, history and aesthetics, cross-cultural sexuality, and history of sexuality, and incorporates into her courses issues on political economy, race, and class. She is on the MLA committee for sexuality, involved with a national group of women who are producing work jointly on gender and globalization, and has served on national Ford Foundation committees for institutional change. She has reviewed for journals including Signs, Public Culture, and Meridians.

She holds a B.A. from Wellesley in 1980 and a B.S. from Delhi University. Her Ph.D. on Urdu, Hindi and Sankrit was an interdisciplinary degree from an Area Studies program at Columbia University.

Her recent book, Literary Movements, Historical Hauntings: Gender, colonialism and desire in Miraji's Urdu Poetry, from Stanford University Press has been reissued as an Indian edition by Manohar Press. She co-edited an issue of GLQ, and is currently writing her next book Gender and the Global Nation, and co-editing a collection on globalization and sexuality with Anjali Arondekar. She has also contributed articles, essays, and reviews to a wide range of scholarly journals.
Imtiyaz Hussein

Imtiyaz Hussein [ watch video ]
Imtiyaz Hussein was born in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania (his family had migrated to East Africa from India four generations ago) and grew up in Toronto, Canada. He originally moved to the Boston area for college, fell in love with the city and made it his home.

Professionally, Imtiyaz is a Manager with The Bridgespan Group, a nonprofit consulting firm that provides strategy consulting services to nonprofits and foundations across the US. Previously, Imtiyaz was a consultant with McKinsey & Company and earlier in his career, he worked at a few community-based organizations including GLAD.

Imtiyaz is the founder of MASALA (Massachusetts Area South Asian Lambda Association) which he started in 1994 so that LGBT people of South Asian heritage could gather to support one another on their coming-out journeys and to build community. He is a recipient of the Bayard Rustin Award for Courage and was a co-chair of HRC's New England gala dinner in 2005.

Imtiyaz lives in JP with his husband, Michael Wartofsky. They were recently married in a ceremony which featured Jewish, Indian and Broadway traditions. His 90-year old grandmother performed some of the rituals.

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