Five questions with nisha ahuja – an uplifting and enlightened theatre artist, actor, movement-based theatre creator, singer, and writer
Photo Credit: Anirudh Thorat
What was it like growing up?
I was born and raised an Algonquin Territory on Turtle Island, also known as Ottawa, Canada. I had a middle class model minority immigrant upbringing in a household that was culturally Hindu in the 80’s & 90’s. I was surrounded by many people’s from around the world, but we were all considered minorities to a predominant White Canadian culture. I always had a feeling of being an outsider as I didn’t feel at ease within the “normal” of being a girl, “normal” of White culture, “normal” of “middle class South Asian” culture, “normal” in ways of loving I saw around me.
How did you come out?
Coming out happens everyday. But looking back I came out to myself around the age of 10 or 11, but because of internalized homophobia and not having other Queer South Asians around I had a good decade of confusion, shame, and guilt. I also felt a lot of guilt about sexualizing other women in a way that I had been sexualized in traumatic ways as if I was replicating “the male gaze”. As I started to recognize this wasn’t the case, I came to love this core of my being totally connected to my spirituality and emerged into my being as a Queer Polyamourous Fluid Femme (cuz my gender isn’t fixed either!)!!
I came out to my parents in my late twenties. There were some years of seeming acceptance, but they continually waver in their struggle to accept my being.
My extended family knows- many say they just want me to be happy and that feels so good. Others ignore it when it’s brought up. And there are others who don’t know or at least pretend that they don’t.
Some of the South Asian Community I grew up with knows and some don’t. There’s a lot of gossip, but I pulled away in my late teens as I didn’t vibe with that and I felt I wouldn’t be accepted. Based on some reactions from folks I have come out to, I think many would accept now. I hope.
What has been your inspiration in life?
I’m really inspired by the amazing Queer and Trans People of Colour I have met across Turtle Island (Canada & USA), and India who courageously make art, community, chosen family, and who live beyond the constraints and constructs of society. Coming out is not for everyone though, as some folks might face real danger in doing so, however by building with each other we can make spaces to hold each other in our wholeness.
What has been some of your greatest achievements?
Achievement and goals are funny things. Ultimately, the times I feel at greatest achievement is when I’m at ease and joy through acceptance of where I’m at in my journey. I feel the process of learning more about Yogic & Vedic practice and medicines, as well as making and sharing theatre and music have offered my being much healing, allowing me to enter into a state of wholeness. Being able to share the same with others’ at this point in my journey is so satisfying.
What is your message to the world?
My life’s work is dedicated to deconstructing colonial boundaries between art, traditional medicines, spirituality, and politics. To create and offer spaces that allow our communities to flourish beyond the trauma our systems have and continue to create.
Being queer asks me to move through the world with courage and the strength of vulnerability that allows journeying beyond the constraints of normalized ways of existing in our world that often fragment and disconnect ourselves from our own beings and each other.
Living this truth is honouring and reclaiming ways of being that were diminished through colonization.
It is rooting in deep spirituality and ancestral wisdom while cultivating a unique balance of “masculine” and “feminine” cosmic energies. It is having fluidity and flow in my gender and redefining how love is shared and expressed.
We have existed for Millennium.
For me being Queer is being in Purna/ Wholeness.
nisha ahuja is a theatre artist, actor, movement-based theatre creator, singer and writer who has created and performed across Canada, The Netherlands, and India. she also shared Yogic medicine and Attmic energy healing. Learn more about nisha at www.nishaahuja.com