J Jha is a gender non-conforming South Asian asylee, who is re-imagining the world from trans centers of gravity. She has been active in community organizing at the SF LGBT Center, Folsom Street Fair, UpYourAlley, Tenant and Neighbourhood Council(TANC), Parivar – Our South Asian Queer Trans Family and, Food Not Bombs SF.  In November 2019, they presented the world premiere of Mahâbhârata, a solo-telling of the great Indian epic, adapted by Geetha Reddy, a South Asian-American playwright, where the re-tellng intentionally presents the non-cis gendered male perspective that has (and continues to) otherwise dominated this conversation for thousands of Hindu years. J, along with Circo Zero, performed Queer Migrants, a collaborative self-created/curated piece of street-story-telling on the steps of the US Customs and immigration Office, Sansom Street, San Francisco, CA in 2017 and 2018.

Learn more about J’s home theater company Oakland Theater Project.

Video Cue

  • Surviving Shame – J shares about their shame journey, and the revelation that joy exists as a necessary tool for resilience and freedom.
  • Embrace Joy – J recalls the permission they got on stage, and still they did not take it. Now they say ” Why not?” Take it. Embrace joy and drive it.
  • Acting Roles that Impact – J touches on the power of storytelling, and recalls roles have had an impact on them, “in ways that [they are] still uncovering.” One allowed them to play everyday the walls of the cage that was the reality of their life. Another was an opportunity to retell a story that is fundamental to South Asian culture through the lens of their current journey with gender identity.
  • Playing Complex Characters – J wants to play roes where “Intention is not known and motivation is not clear.” J explains that multiversity is constant in their life, and so they want to see “friendly” and “not friendly” narratives challenged.
  • Sexuality in the Media  – J explains why sexuality in media has caused depression and failure in relationships. “We have all decided sex will be represented in a certain way. It’s become the norm that this is the representation of sex.” This trend started hundreds of years ago, and is intricately linked to colonizers stripping away the culture of the colonized.