Activist Pradeep Mahadeshwar highlights the importance of queer Asian visibility

As part of the #StrongerTogether initiative, Pradeep Mahadeshwar spoke about the need for better queer Asian representation.

Pradeep Mahadeshwar, founder of Queer Asain Pride Ireland. H eis wearing an open denim shirt with a black t-shirt and a yellow bead necklace.
Image: Hazel Coonagh

As we celebrate Pride Month across this island, we must confront the harsh reality that our community faces; a rising tide of disinformation, scapegoating and hate. It’s time again for us to channel our collective pain and anger into action for social justice. As part of the #StrongerTogether initiative in collaboration with the Rowan Trust and the Hope and Courage collective, GCN interviewed Pradeep Mahadeshwar, founder of Queer Asian Pride Ireland, who spoke about the need for increased visibility for the queer Asian community in Ireland.

Since moving to Ireland from India in 2012, activist and artist Pradeep Mahadeshwar has been a boisterous voice for the queer Asian community. He founded Queer Asian Pride Ireland (QAPI) in 2022, along with Tess, a social justice activist with South Asian roots. This intersectional community faces a unique set of barriers than that of the rest of the queer community here in Ireland. It is the mission of QAPI to educate and inform people on what these barriers are, and how we can work together to improve queer Asian people’s lives in this country.

The founder of QAPI identified the urgent need for such an organisation, saying that “there is not much awareness or understanding about the queer Asian presence in Ireland. If you consider Asian queerness, it embraces the landscape, the political landscape. So, it is very diverse, no two countries share the same perspective about LGBTQ+ [people].

“It also involves distinctive religious and cultural influences on people’s lives and sexuality, gender performative roles and the freedom of sexual expression.”

Those who migrate from Asian countries to Ireland are not newly introduced to anti-LGBTQ+ ideologies. However, for queer and Asian people that move to Ireland, issues such as sexual racism and inclusion become even more apparent.

Speaking about Asian LGBTQ+ folk being displaced from anti-queer environments, Pradeep said that “the bare minimum requirement to what we see (as a reason) to migrate is that if that country has decriminalised homosexuality.

“You bring different distinctive physical features, like your skin colour, body type and all those other aspects. These make you stand out and appear different; you can become a vulnerable or easy target for the right wing. People see you as easy to poke, call names or throw eggs at you, even to spit on your backpack.”

Regarding the last example, Pradeep Mahadeshwar recollects an experience in Ranelagh when an adult Irishman spat on him. He notes how the incident took place in a so-called posh area of Dublin, highlighting firstly the prevalence of this abuse against queer Asian people, and secondly how it exists on a multi-class level in Irish society.

The need for Queer Asian Pride Ireland and the amount of work left to be done is clear, in light of Pradeep’s experiences. Fortunately though, Pradeep experienced somewhat of a breakthrough in the campaign’s mission in 2021, after he took part in the Proud AF campaign.

Speaking about the initiative, he said “That campaign gave me more visibility, from Australia to Canada and North America. Particularly Asian gay men and lesbians started reaching out to me. That was the goal and I think we achieved the understanding; that we exist. The marriage referendum has happened and that’s amazing of course, but that’s not the end point of all problems we have.”


Pradeep was also selected to be a part of the 2021 Gaze Film Festival jury. With representation and inclusivity being some of the issues that he advocates for, this was a fitting development in the artist’s mission.

He continued: “That was a lovely thing, it gave me more scope as an artist and activist. Because after migrating, my art has definitely changed. It’s influenced now by the prejudice, sexual racism, marginalised experiences as a Person of Colour in this queer space. It gave me more access and visibility to the community. That was one person who advised the decision to invite me to the jury and I really appreciate those people in the community.”

The QAPI head also outlined the “whole-hearted support” he received from GCN founder Tonie Walsh, as well as former managing editor Lisa Connell.

He concluded: “(Writing for GCN) opened many doors for me, and it was amazing because those stories haven’t ever been heard or shared. This is also how my art has changed; I wasn’t a writer initially. I had a huge fear since English wasn’t my first language, but it was Tonie who pushed me to start to write.

“You can do all these things, but you also need someone who’s established in the community to raise you up, hold your hand.”

This story originally appeared in GCN’s Pride issue 378, as part of an ongoing feature on solidarity that was created in cooperation with the Rowan Trust and the Hope and Courage Collective. You can read this interview with Pradeep Mahadeshwar and other activists in the full issue here

Want to be featured in this special campaign? Share a message of solidarity using #StrongerTogether, tagging GCN or email [email protected].


© 2023 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

This article was published in the print edition Issue No. 378 (June 1, 2023). Click here to read it now.

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Proud Warriors

Issue 378 June 1, 2023

June 1, 2023

This article was originally published in GCN Issue 378 (June 1, 2023).

Read Now