Intersecting Race & Sexuality: Aditya Tiwari Is The First Queer Indian To Host A BBC Podcast

(L) Aditya Tiwari; BBC (R)
(L) Aditya Tiwari; BBC (R)(L) @aprilislush; (R)

How many of us can say that we have been on a BBC podcast in our lifetime? How many of us can say we did it under 25? Aditya Tiwari can. A UK-based award-winning LGBTQ+ rights activist hailing from Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh, Tiwari has hosted a six-part podcast series for BBC Voices in the UK. In addition to the podcast, he has also written a book of poems titled April Is Lush and has even contributed to several national and international publications.

Tiwari is the first gay South-Asian Indian, to host his own six-part podcast for BBC Voices. As told to The Wire, “It’s startling yet amazing that a platform like BBC Voices has recognised my voice and all that I have to offer — it’s truly phenomenal.”

Previously a Master’s student at the University of East Anglia studying journalism, Tiwari centred his podcast series around male mental health — a topic that is woefully unexplored and deserves to be talked about more often with nuance and sensitivity; both of which Tiwari brings to the table in heaps.

Arriving in the UK from India was a new experience for Tiwari. Having lived in a small town in India, spending almost half the pandemic cooped up in his parents’ house in Jabalpur, he experienced that loss of community that so many queer people felt too. When his plans to move to the UK for his Master’s were postponed due to the pandemic, he was at a loss and that took a toll on his mental health. When he finally did move, it was the first time he found himself genuinely aware of the intersection between race and queerness. With his mental health already on a decline, he had to start over in a new country, make new friends, and find a new space for himself. After being aware of the fact that now people could be racist and homophobic without really saying anything vocally, he resolves to, “Never stop living my life the way I want to.”

Tiwari has always had a passion for telling stories and writing. He aims to bring the narratives that are shunned by mainstream media and often gate-kept topics to the fore. As he says on his podcast along with co-host Rosie John, “Creative outlets for queer people are a way of escape and self-expression and for me, poetry has been that.” His poetry has helped him articulate many things he was feeling, and to deal with the changing world, both internally and externally. He balances his mental health with his writing and is also grateful that he has friends that he can reach out to, to keep him grounded.

Through the pandemic, he was also able to get comfortable with his own company. Being a very outgoing person prior to the pandemic, he now doesn’t feel the urge to go out as much as he used to. He says, “Spending time with myself has been very liberating. I have realised that no matter what the world thinks of you, it’s more of what you think about yourself that matters.”

Through his 6-part podcast and his poetry, he has realised that he has become more resilient and more vocal which has helped him remember and appreciate who he is. Tiwari is now looking forward to beginning his professional life in the UK as well as continuing to build his personal life with his friends and his newfound family along with his brand new book of poems — ‘Lilac Dreams and Bruises’. For people still struggling with their mental health, he gives this advice, the same that he says to his younger self in his podcast, “Hang in there, things will get better eventually.”

Follow Aditya Tiwari here.

You can buy his book of poems here.

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