ORAM BOARD INTERVIEWS: Rajiv Desai
How did you start your involvement with the LGBTIQ community? I describe myself as a citizen of the world, one who is constantly trying to understand people and the communities around us. This led me into a career working in the space of diversity, equity and inclusion. I personally got involved in the LGBTIQ community, after coming out at 27 and recognizing the challenges of being closeted while moving to the US from India, 20 years ago.
What attracted you to become a board member for ORAM? ORAM definitely aligned with the areas I wanted to focus my energy on. I come from a place where it’s hard to be different. I know people who have to survive every day by hiding their identities just to live an okay life. So, the mission behind ORAM attracted me and I thought it would be great if I could do something to contribute. I wanted to get involved with ORAM and I was honestly open to anything, as it turned out ORAM was looking for a board member. So, I went through the board process and here we are. Ultimately, I was looking for a more global board position as opposed to the previous board position I held. My work in diversity, equity and inclusion really helps me be a better board member as well.
What has been the most rewarding part about being a board member with ORAM? I think the first rewarding part has really been solidifying and expanding the board – we are all new and we are formalizing it and building that solid foundation of board governance so we can bring ORAM to the next level. That’s one thing! I think my most rewarding experience to-date, has been moderating a webinar ORAM hosted in October. It was a true honor to help with a webinar focused on promoting Black LGBTIQ refugee leaders and highlighting their issues. The chance to be in the same virtual room with such strong LGBTIQ activists was a tremendous sense of inspiration, honor, and privilege. It was truly humbling.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to work with or for ORAM? I would say there are multiple ways to get involved with the international and refugee LGBTIQ community. One particular thing you can do it simply show up to events. Sometimes the event you attend can be an organization’s first big event so your attendance can really be impactful or even game changing. Helping out at any capacity (be it through time, financial support or spreading awareness) and showing up for a cause you believe in already makes a huge difference.