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Queer Brown Stories is centred around two creative workshops which were designed to hold space for the community to come together and share their experiences through poetry and collage.

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Space, Place & Belonging

Facilitated by Nikita Aashi Chadha (they/she)

'Space, Place & Belonging' was the first of a two-part workshop series for Queer Brown Stories. This workshop, facilitated by Nikita Aashi Chadha and specifically designed for the Queer and Trans South Asian community in Camden, explored the intricate connections between postcolonial and queer theory, and our local queer history.

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We focused on using free-writing as a tool and delved into the concepts of space, place, and belonging to create a collective poem. This approach provided our participants with a platform to articulate their emotions, perceptions, and experiences in a nuanced and expressive manner. Understanding the sensitive nature of these topics, Nikita ensured that mental health support was readily available. The session began with an informative segment on postcolonial and queer theory, laying the groundwork for our discussions on how these concepts relate to our experiences in Camden. Participants were then guided through free-writing exercises, responding to prompts that encouraged them to draw on the themes discussed.

The prompts covered a range of topics. In discussing 'space,' participants explored theories of queering space and the concept of transitional, in-between spaces. The discussion on 'place' involved an examination of queering architecture and the contrasts between the Orient and the Occident, prompting reflections on personal connections to places within Camden. The topic of 'belonging' led to an exploration of othering in both postcolonial and queer contexts, revealing deeply personal stories of belonging and alienation in our local community.

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Taking Up Space In The City

Facilitated by Aarandeep Sian (they/them)

Part two of Queer Brown Stories was ‘Taking Up Space in the City’ - a collage workshop that offered a unique exploration of Queer & Trans South Asian identity in Camden. Facilitated by Aarandeep Sian, this workshop was part of the Connecting Camley Street artwork programme, an initiative of the Camden Council dedicated to amplifying local voices in shaping the area's future.

 

Using collage as a medium, it was a deep dive into what it means for our communities to occupy space and assert Queer & Trans South Asian identities in a cityscape that often overlooks these narratives. We addressed critical questions about personal identity, community aspirations, and the role of representation and visibility. Participants reflected on their journeys, sharing what it means to be Queer and South Asian in Camden and expressing their hopes and dreams for the future. These discussions were guided by the overarching question: How can we build a Queer South Asian community in Camden that truly represents our diverse identities and needs?

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Each participant's contribution, whether through poetry or collage, is intricately woven into the mural by artists Aarandeep Sian & Sarith Ratnayake. We thank all our participants for their bravery, openness, and creativity, and look forward to continuing our work in amplifying the voices and stories of the Queer and Trans South Asian community.

The 'Queer Brown Stories' mural is located at the Camley Street Underpass Gallery, near 120 Camley Street. It hopes to express the desires, stories and experiences of a community that has always existed and yet lacked recognition by the city. It is evident that the narratives and visions of the community and the questions posed represent a model of deep inclusivity, which has the potential to shape cities that truly recognise, embed and cater to diverse and intersectional identities.

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