Recently, I was on a friend’s podcast where representation is a theme for the guests invited for a conversation. For my friend and I, representation is very important because my friend identifies as gender nonbinary and pansexual, and one of my careers is as a screenwriter who focuses on inclusion, representation, and belonging. My friend is a quarter South Asian Indian and I identify with this group as well.
On the podcast, I mentioned that I had a screenplay with a South Asian lesbian lead. My friend and I recounted how important representation is on our screens because we should feel included in the media we consume. For my friend, to see characters outside of heteronormativity and cis-normativity would have been great growing up. For me, a South Asian lead with Indian culture represented on my screen would have made such a difference as a child and today.
How does this story relate to belonging in the world?
Merriam Webster defines belonging in several ways and the definition that is important to our discussion is “to be an attribute, part, adjunct, or function of a person or thing.” The definition is taken to a more human perspective when people feel like part of a team or a group where they can truly be themselves, and express themselves freely without retribution at work or in other parts of their lives.
What must not be forgotten is that people define if they feel like they belong; the efforts by others or organization do not define whether someone feels like they belong on a set, at work, in school, on TV or in a movie. This is key.