Homegrown first came across Priya Dali’s work in a comic titled “I Wanted To Be The Man Of The House’, a fictional comic in response to the universal, post-coming out question – “When did you first realise that you were not straight?”
In this endearing comic, Dali tackles the convention-drenched question of “realising you were gay” with a wonderful air of humour and homeliness. The line at the end, “I guess I didn’t mind playing the husband because it meant I could imagine a family and a future with a woman… even though it was just for a few minutes”, is a near perfect (though unintentional) response to common anti-LGBTQ rhetoric about how embracing homosexuality will destroy the idea of marriage and family. We are in a moment, online and offline, where stories when listened to are catalysts for change—where honesty is an act of bravery usually met with a reception of equal sincerity.
Dali is one among a growing community of homegrown artists using comedy and comics to kickstart a chain reaction towards more inclusive conversations. “I work around the whole idea that disclosure inspires disclosure,” says Dali. “When you share something about yourself people feel more connected and they are then willing to open up as well”. Starting from her final year at the Srishti Institute of Art, Design and Technology, which followed with an internship with Gaysi, a lot of Dali’s work represents narratives from the LGBTQ community. That is, however, not the premise of why she creates such work.
“I pick up visual cues from my day, out of the mundane,” she explains. Adding further, “local trains were a big inspirational space for me. It wasn’t until my final year at University that explore ideas around sex and sexuality which stemmed from own discomfort around the topic and how I was completely incapable of talking about it.”
Her new blog, S for Sex, is about just that, the difficulties laden in the inklings of conversations about sex and sexuality—because getting them started are often the hardest part. Some non-fiction some fiction, the posts are about a variance of sexual topics from titles like ‘Postcards from my Vagina’ to ‘Horny Hormones’. Revealing parts, not wholes, but bits and pieces of her personal life is how Dali connects with her audiences. “It’s a good way to have some emotional connection with your audience,” she says, “Somebody has to take a starting role to catalyse the entire process and push it forward.” And in a very humbling way, it is just as simple as that. “It’s lack of personal experience with a subject that limits your understanding of it,” she explains, “So many of my close friends who I have come out to are now more aware and have started pushing for things.”
Telling your story may seem like a small act but it is an act of bravery nonetheless. What is perhaps the most important takeaway from Dali’s experience is how apparent the shift, rather the chain reaction was following her body of work. Her act, small as she thinks it may be, preceded a noticeable shift of the hearts and minds in her direct community.
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