Indian-American comedian Nik Dodani wants to make you laugh, and hopefully think a bit too. The self-described “gay Indian” uses his standup to discuss how race and sexuality intersect in his life and culture. In an interview with PinkNews he discussed everything from coming out, to homophobia, to how comedy can bring visibility to the daily struggles of LGBT people of color.

On why comedy is the perfect vehicle for his message:

I always thought that the best way to talk about serious issues is to poke fun at them. Sharing a laugh with somebody is such a bonding experience. When you’re laughing, I think people are open to hearing other perspectives, and really absorbing other perspectives. I thought one issue that’s really personal to me, and isn’t really talked about a lot, is homophobia in Indian culture. I thought stand-up would be an awesome way to address that in a way that people would actually want to listen to. 

I think that invisibility fuels the homophobia and keeps the homophobia alive. Increasing the visibility will be one way—not the only way—we can help tackle homophobia in India and in Indian American communities. Coming out to your friends and family can make an enormous difference.

On coming out to his father:

I came out to my Dad and he was shockingly amazing about it, it was beautiful. I told him and he looked at me and said, “Nikhil, I’ve never had a problem with gay people, but now it’s personal. If anybody ever says anything I will tear them to shreds.” And then he started tearing up, and we hugged, it was so great. It just blindsided me.

On his mother’s reaction:

She was confused, it wasn’t on her radar at all. Growing up in India, it wasn’t spoken about, so she just couldn’t process it in the moment. Now, my mother is very accepting and supportive. The initial confusion and hesitancy melted away after having many open and honest, and sometimes awkward conversations, with me. She opened up, and her transformation is a testament to the importance of visibility.

Read the full article here.

Watch his standup routine below.

 

*Post has been updated to reflect the correct spelling of Dodani’s first name. It’s Nik, not Nic.