In this conversation, we chat with author Sharan Dhaliwal about Pride, comfort zones and her debut book, Burning My Roti: Breaking Barriers As A Queer Indian Woman.


Hi! My name is Sharan Dhaliwal (she/her) and I'm an author; my debut book Burning My Roti: Breaking Barriers As A Queer Indian Woman was released in March this year. I'm also the editor of South Asian magazine Burnt Roti, which uses its platform to give South Asians a voice to discuss mental health, identity, sexuality and much more. I also run an occasional queer speed dating and comedy night called Oh Queer Cupid, for people to get together and grow community (also: flirt).

How do you celebrate pride and what does it mean to you?

I celebrate pride the same as I celebrate every day I've been able to exist freely and openly: with no reservation. Pride has unfortunately become overwhelmingly corporate, and it's very difficult to return to the original message of fighting for justice and equality. It's a time to be active in our constant fight - it's time to be allies within the community too. If pride is now running inside a capitalist system, we've got to be louder about the realities of the toxic and violent environment the LGBTQ+ community is up against. Because this system is set up to dampen our voices.


When do you feel most in your comfort zone?

It's as simple as fresh sheets, cosy sweats and a good horror film.


When did you last push yourself out of your comfort zone?

I pitched a tent. As a femme drama queen, it was a lot. You will all be happy to hear, I did not cry once.

How have you learnt to be more comfortable within yourself?

It's been a long journey. I spent a lot of time accommodating to other people; I would put myself second to others feelings. I learnt to stop doing that when it led to a manipulative relationship that nearly destroyed me. Since then, I've learnt that people aren't always in your life, but you are always there, so you have to treat yourself well. Otherwise you wake up hating yourself every morning.


Tell us about your book! What's it about, and how was your experience writing it?

I wrote Burning My Roti during lockdown, which was actually really stressful!

The book has a lot of trauma in it, so it was difficult writing it all out, while experiencing depression from the pandemic. The book is essentially a memior about my experiences with identity as a queer Indian woman. I hold beauty standards, disordered eating, mental health and sexuality up to a mirror against white supremacy and capitalism. There are also a few interviews in the book, including my mum and dad! The book itself is stunning, with amazing illustrations from Aleesha Nandhra and designed by Lisa Rahman.


One piece of advice you would give your younger self? 

I find this hard; it's hard to consider what I could say to change my experiences growing up - I think that in a world where systems are set up against me, there's nothing I could have said to change much. I guess: "it's not your fault".


What is your favourite Pantee style?


High waisted briefs and crop tops for life!!!!!



A huge thanks to Sharan for sharing her story with us. Shop her favourites, The Crop & High Waisted Briefs below 🌚

June 17, 2022 — Katie McCourt

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