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I Kissed A Girl Reunion: Priya Talks Nae and Racial Bias

I Kissed A Girl’s Priya on Racial Bias, Being a South Asian Queer Woman and Community

Image Source: BBC

I know BBC's I Kissed A Girl is a breath of fresh air in a oversaturated world of dating shows. The reality show, which is a female version of the channel's breakout hit from last summer, I Kissed A Boy, follows 10 lesbian and bisexual contestants on their quest for love in an Italian Masseria, alongside host Dannii Minogue.

This weekend the dating show had its series one reunion and drama was on the menu. 23-year-old Priya from from Newport, Wales, who describes herself as a "proud queer Punjabi woman," was at the centre of it. As viewers will now know, Priya and her partner Nae stayed together throughout the whole show and were even voted "strongest couple". However, during the reunion Nae revealed that they broke up and Priya had married someone else. Priya then clarified that she was single when she went on the show but got married to the woman she was temporarily engaged to before.

PS UK caught up with Priya after the reunion and even though things didn't work out, she spoke fondly of her time with Nae. "Look, I liked Nae straight away," she admits to PS UK. "I said my type was a woman of colour and I like someone a lot more masc presenting. So, when I saw Nae it just clicked. And her smile? I mean come on, she has amazing smile."

Priya's journey to finding herself came after she came out to her parents in 2020, after accepting she was gay at university, but she was initially worried about their response. Speaking to PS UK over Zoom, she said: "I was really scared to come out, especially to my parents, because I was scared about how they were going to react. I was also fearful about what my extended family was going to think too." She adds: "In South Asian culture, we barely talk about relationships let alone gay relationships." However, her family were very accepting. Priya reveals: "They're happy for me, whatever I do. I know that not everyone in the South Asian community has the same experience. But I was very lucky and I'm very grateful that they are so supportive."

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Part of her hesitancy to open up about her sexuality came from the lack of role models within her community in the UK. "A lot of the queer women I saw in the media were white. I didn't see any South Asian queer women," she says. "I was also so desperate to find queer friends. In the area that I grew up in there weren't many people, especially people of colour, I could relate to."

The reality star's time on the dating show was full of "ups and downs," and she has been in the centre of some drama. After Priya and her partner Naee had to send one of the couples home (which spoiler alert, was Lisha and Abi,) the Masseria was divided and Priya got a lot of the heat. As the show aired on BBC, this also carried on with the viewers online.

"I think the show has reminded us all to be proud of who we are, we should be screaming it from the rooftops."

Queer women of colour can suffer a host of abuse online, with homophobia and racial bias being thrown at them. And while Priya didn't feel any racial bias or attacked by microaggressions in the Masseria, she feels she has experienced that on social media since the show aired. "I do see a large difference in the way that the white women are being perceived compared to women of colour on the show," she says. "I think a lot of people have turned a blind eye to some of the white women's comments compared to the women of colour and it's frustrating."

She adds: "It's a conversation I would like to have but it's so raw and people are probably not ready to hear it. I've had a lot of women of colour come up to me and say, 'I see the microaggressions and I see the way you've been treated differently than the white women in the Masseria.'"

Upon reflection, sadly Priya isn't surprised by the difference in treatment from some viewers: "Yes it's frustrating but what else did I expect? In the UK, the demographic of queer women are predominantly white because women of colour may not be as comfortable to be out and proud due to family and culture." She was also surprised that the new girls Thea and Lailah, who both have Black heritage, didn't get as much hype from the audience. "I expected a lot more noise just because they're absolutely stunning. I didn't get the lack of attention," Priya admits.

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Some fans online have said that the Priya got a bit too much heat for the decision to send Lisha and Abi home, and she agrees to an extent: "Obviously, I had my own opinions about Lisha and Abi's relationship dynamic and the other girls had theirs." Priya explains that in a house full of big personalities, it can be difficult to navigate disagreements. "I think you have to navigate tension very delicately on the show because I knew I was very alone in that situation," she says. "I had to regulate my emotions to try and get the girls to understand where I was coming from. It was a hard decision we had to make in the moment and I didn't want to send anyone home."

"I've had a lot of women of colour come up to me and say: 'I see the microaggressions and I see the way you've been treated differently.'"

Although it was a tense moment for her on the show, she isn't holding any grudges towards any of the cast. "I felt like it was a bit unfair at the time. However, I completely understand where the girls were coming from. Some comments were uncalled for but it's all okay now. I still love them all to bits and there's no bad blood all — there's always going to be a bit of drama in a house full of lesbians!"

On a dating show of course there will be drama, but there were also a lot of fond memories Priya has from her time in the Masseria. One of the best things about the show are the important conversations that are weaved in throughout each episode. As well as having important conversations on screen about being a queer woman of colour and dismantling the harmful connotations surrounding being bisexual, the girls also had a powerful and emotional conversation around the word lesbian. Priya says: "I love the word, I feel no shame from it but I say this because I came out later in life. I know that some of the girls on the show felt the shame behind it because they came out earlier; when you're young and you have all these feelings towards women, you're so confused and people use the word lesbian in a derogatory way it's hard."

"In South Asian culture, we barely talk about relationships let alone gay relationships."

As the show continues, many women are looking to Priya for inspiration and to other South Asian queer women who might be struggling to come out, she has some advice: "Obviously, everyone will have a different experience but my advice would be to read the situation but never be sorry for who you are. Never be sorry that you are a queer woman."

She stresses that even if your immediate family doesn't support you, you will find your community who will embrace you for who you are. "If you don't have other queer friends, I'm always here to talk and I'll be your friend," she says. "Being on the show, I've had so much support and there are so many women coming up to me and saying" 'Thank you for representing queer South Asian women.' I'm here, I get it. I know it's not easy but always be yourself." She encourages women to be fearless: "If you have this internal torture on whether to speak about your family, or whether they'll accept you, just do it anyway. Don't be afraid — you'll always have people behind you backing you up and you'll find the right community, I promise."

The I Kissed A Girl Final airs on 2 June on BBC.

Aaliyah Harry (she/her) is the associate editor at PS UK. She writes extensively across lifestyle, culture and beauty. Aaliyah also has a deep passion for telling stories and giving voice to the voiceless. Previously, she has contributed to Refinery29, Grazia UK and The Voice Newspaper.

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