State of Global Affairs: Conversion Myth, Marriage Equality, and Pandemic Struggles
InterPod Episode 6
Content warning: the following episode contains sensitive material such as depression and suicide ideation.
The LGBTQIA+ community has come a long way in the fight for acceptance. Our voices matter and will be heard. Many of our LGBTQIA+ community members have fought for decades for the right to be seen, and heard. Our history as a community is so important to recognize the struggles of those before us.
Kicking off the year with topics from the countries of Canada, Japan, India, and closing thoughts from the big apple!
Program Lineup Includes:
- Discussion about Canada banning Gay Conversion Therapy
- Marriage Equality in Japan
- Getting through a pandemic in India
- Words from new Executive Director of Heritage of Pride (NYC Pride), Sandra Perez
Mike Smith (they/them) says their greatest passion is working to improve the lives and well-being of queer and trans communities. They have spent most of their career in Toronto working with this population in a variety of roles and sub-sectors including youth mental health, human rights, learning and development, health promotion, and organizational development.
After serving two years as a Mormon missionary, this neurodivergent superqueer — hella gay, non-binary, and taurus — attained an Honours Bachelor of Arts in sociology and anthropology from the University of Toronto and a Certificate in Human Resources Management from X University.
Mike works at ACT (the AIDS Committee of Toronto) as a project coordinator with the Gay Men’s Health Programs department. In 2020, Mike launched a consulting business specializing in not-for-profit organizational development and sexual and gender diversity education. Some of Mike’s former clients include the International Youth Alliance for Family Planning (Gates Institute) and the United Church of Canada.
Mike enjoys playing classical music, eating carbs, and binge-watching Schitt’s Creek.
Nicholas Schiavo (he/him) is a Director of Social Policy and Government Relations with Impact Public Affairs where he develops advocacy solutions for private and public sector clients across industries. Nicholas is also the Executive Director of No Conversion Canada, a national, grassroots, nonprofit coalition he founded to ban conversion “therapy” in Canada. In December 2021, No Conversion Canada and partners successfully passed Bill C-4, officially outlawing conversion “therapy” in Canada.
Previously, Nicholas worked as a Policy Analyst with Fisheries and Oceans Canada on the G7 Task Force, as an Ontario Global Edge Fellow in Nairobi, Kenya and with the Green Party of Canada during the 2015 federal election. Over the years Nicholas has been fortunate to work with a number of global institutions as a delegate, including the Commonwealth, the World Bank Group and the United Nations.
From 2017–2019, Nicholas served as the Program Director of the Young Diplomats of Canada where he met with Ministers and the Prime Minister to develop a stronger youth agenda. In 2018, he was selected as a Future Leaders Connect Fellow by the British Council to develop a long term policy action plan on LGBTQ2+ rights with the University of Cambridge. Nicholas is passionate about community organizing and currently serves as the Government Relations Associate with Start Proud Ottawa and was named one of “Canada’s Future Foreign Policymakers” by Open Canada in June 2018.
Nicholas holds a Bachelor of Arts, Honours Specialization in International Relations from Western University and a Master of Political Management as part of the Clayton H. Riddell Graduate Program from Carleton University.
He’s always looking for a new challenge or new perspective so feel free to reach out on Twitter @NickSchiavo_.
Asako Hanafusa (she/her) has been a staff writer of a Japanese newspaper, The Asahi Shimbun, since 2008. She is currently assigned to work for a local tv station, Hiroshima Home TV, as a reporter and director. She has written articles and created short films about queer communities in Japan. She completed her Sexuality Studies Master’s Degree at San Francisco State University while living in the Bay Area from 2017 to 2019. Her thesis is about Japanese queer immigrants in the U.S.
Anjali Rimi (she/they) is a proud South Asian Canadian American woman of trans experience based in the San Francisco Bay Area. She was born in India, blossomed in Canada, belonging in the United States.
Anjali is the president & co-founder of America’s only Trans-led, Trans-centering South Asian Queer organization of Parivar Bay Area. Parivar Bay Area focuses on centering Trans equity, economic justice within South Asian Diaspora. Parivar current initiative SITAL, the largest pan-India grassroots initiative is saving Trans Hijra lives across 26 states, with over 1 crore of funds disbursed.
Anjali currently serves on the boards for The LGBT Asylum Project and San Francisco Pride & on the Trans Advisory Committee with the Office of Transgender Initiatives, San Francisco Mayor’s office.
She holds an MBA and works as a business development executive in the wine industry. Anjali helps companies cultivate Trans LGB inclusive workplaces as a Diversity Equity Inclusion (DEI) coach. Anjali works with leaders at every level across Fortune 500, corporate and nonprofit foundations.
Sonali Dalvi (she/her) Tex speaker Organized India’s first Transgender marathon.
Milin Dutta (she/her) is from Assam, a trans-man and an advocate of queer rights founded Anaajoree in 2018. Registered under the Societies Registration Act of 1860, Anaajoree is a not-for-profit organization that has been operational in Assam in India’s northeast since 2018. Anaajoree envisions working in 6 focal areas that it has carefully identified — education, gender and sexuality, environment, art & craft, community health & eldercare and animal welfare. Milin formerly known as Mili had moved to South Minneapolis in the US on the lookout for employment opportunity. While in the States, Mili became more aware of issues relating to gender and sexuality, more so for an inherent urge to educate herself on the same as she could never identify with her gender assigned at birth. Mili returned to northeast India in 2014, after a 20-year absence, and organized the regions first Pride Parade in North East India- a region with a history of militarization and ethnic conflict. Mili changed her name and gender in 2015 and become Milin Dutta. In 2017, Milin took early retirement from work to follow his passion towards community building, in Minneapolis and in Assam. He thereby co-founded Anaajoree in 2018. Dedicated towards the vision of a thriving North-East India that offers optimal opportunities and life experience to both humans and animals, Anaajoree strives towards accessibility of rights of marginalized communities through enhanced citizen participation and structural transformation making systems accountable, transparent and just. In order to achieve this, the mission of the organizations work is to support, promote, inspire and connect with local individuals and enterprises engaged in improving the quality of life for all. In the area of sexuality rights, Anaajoree has made every attempt to bring change. Under Xukia-the queer rights wing of Anaajoree, several awareness building workshops and sessions have been conducted across colleges and university spaces in Assam. This has also motivated many young collectives and organizations to grow and build leadership in rural and semi urban areas. -Produced by Founder Milin Dutta, ‘Fireflies’ (Jonaki Porua) became the first ever Assamese movie addressing the queer issue that has been well received in India and nominated at International Film Festivals.
Jeremy Dutcher (he/him) Performer, composer, activist, musicologist — these roles are all infused into his art and way of life. His music, too, transcends boundaries: unapologetically playful in its incorporation of classical influences, full of reverence for the traditional songs of his home, and teeming with the urgency of modern-day struggles of resistance.
A member of Tobique First Nation in New Brunswick, Jeremy first did music studies in Halifax before taking a chance to work in the archives at the Canadian Museum of History, painstakingly transcribing Wolastoq songs from 1907 wax cylinders. “Many of the songs I’d never heard before, because our musical tradition on the East Coast was suppressed by the Canadian Government’s Indian Act.” Jeremy heard ancestral voices singing forgotten songs and stories that had been taken from the Wolastoqiyik generations ago.
As he listened to each recording, he felt his own musical impulses stirring from deep within. Long days at the archives turned into long nights at the piano, feeling out melodies and phrases, deep in dialogue with the voices of his ancestors. These “collaborative”compositions, collected together on his debut LP Wolastoqiyik Lintuwakonawa, are like nothing you’ve ever heard. Delicate, sublime vocal melodies ring out atop piano lines that cascade through a vibrant range of emotions. The anguish and joy of the past erupt fervently into the present through Jeremy’s bold approach to composition and raw, affective performances enhanced by his outstanding tenor techniques.
“I’m doing this work because there’s only about a hundred Wolastoqey speakers left,” he says. “It’s crucial for us to make sure that we’re using our language and passing it on to the next generation. If you lose the language, you’re not just losing words; you’re losing an entire way of seeing and experiencing the world from a distinctly indigenous perspective.”
Sahasra (she/her) is an artist who hails from the tribal village of Bhadrachalam, AP. She is a singer, Adivasi Girijan who lives in their own community with their own language. This traditional art of singing and dancing around the fire, with farming on the hills. And live off what is naturally growing in the forest. She is a tribal folklore dancer and singer who is part of the transgender community, Trans existence in this tribal community is seen mostly as non-binary and considered as nature’s best gift and showered with affection as a prized member of the community. She finished high school, and worked as lab technician before being fired for coming out of Trans community. You can reach Sahsra at @maddelasahasra on IG or at MaddelaSahasra on FB.
Sandra Pérez (she/her) is a longtime non-profit executive with experience in nonprofit management, resource development and special events. A native New Yorker grounded in the Bronx and Puerto Rico, Sandra brings a wealth of lived experience to the work of NYC Pride. In prior roles, she has served as an advocate for Latinx/e arts and culture and has deep roots in the philanthropic sector, serving in multiple development roles for the Ms. Foundation for Women and as a consultant to the public and the private sector. Sandra has also served as a program auditor and grant panelist for a variety of entities in the arts and social justice sectors such as the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Council on the Humanities. As a volunteer, Sandra brings an intersectional lens to her work and has proudly served on the LGBTQ+ Giving Circle with the Chicago Foundation for Women and the YMCA Young Achievers Program, where her efforts centered support to and training of BIPOC youth and leaders. As she begins her journey as executive director for NYC Pride Sandra looks forward to collaborating creatively with other advocates on the issues confronting our diverse communities and mentoring the next generation of young leaders.
“I am thrilled to be joining NYC Pride at such a pivotal time in its development and look forward to bringing all of my lived experiences to our work,” said Pérez. “I am eager to listen to and learn from our members, volunteers and community stakeholders on the challenges we are confronting as a people and amplifying the voices of the LGBTQ+ community who are emerging with solutions.”
Want to hear new episodes monthly? Don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter!
Make sure to follow us on social media to stay in the know about future guests, episodes, and how you can make a difference in the fight for LGBTQIA+ equality.
Follow us on social media:
About Michelle Meow, Producer & Host of InterPod
Michelle Meow is the host and producer of “The Michelle Meow Show.” The program’s tagline is: ‘Your A-Z, covering the LGBT, LMNOP, and everyone in between.’ Michelle’s mission is constructing opportunities for people to listen in to deep conversations to develop understanding and empathy. She shares, “We simply don’t have enough opportunities to talk and not enough moments to listen.” Michelle’s show can be heard in San Francisco and nationally on the Progressive Voices Network and her local TV show can be seen on KBCW TV and Channel 44.
Michelle also produces programs at the iconic Commonwealth Club, where she has also serves on their Board of Governors. There she is dedicated to conversations around social justice with an intersectional lens. She has interviewed notable thought-leaders such as Olympic medalist Adam Rippon, NFL’s first out LGBTQ coach Katie Sowers, first American woman in space, and Sally Ride’s widow Tam O’Shaughnessy. Since 2006, Michelle has been a co-host of the San Francisco Pride Parade broadcast and she was the President of their Board of Directors from 2014–2018. She is a self-described LGBTQI+ history geek, information sponge, and a lover not a fighter.
Michelle shares, “Exchanging thoughtful dialogue can create change. We are all different, but in our differences, we find similarities and hope. Exchanging thoughtful dialogue can create change we all seek in humanity.”
You can learn more about Michelle and her programming at here.