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A Journey to Self-Discovery

Jun/07/2024 / by Abhijit Masih

Across several mediums, Sundeep Morrison’s is breaking barriers for LGBTQ+ people

A child of Panjabi Sikh immigrants, Sundeep Morrison pursues their passion as a storyteller to explore the beautiful and, at times, painful complexities of growing up with deep Eastern roots in a Western world.  A graduate of the American Musical and Dramatic Academy New York, their work focuses on social justice, sexuality, and gender. Their latest film Your Love is a queer, Punjabi-Sikh tale based on the true story of a South Asian woman who came out of the closet in her 60s. In a candid conversation with SEEMA, they shared their personal journey of self-discovery and acceptance as a member of the LGBTQ+ community.

Growing up in Calgary, how did your upbringing and cultural background influence your perspective on life and how have those early experiences shaped you and your storytelling?

Having small-town roots shaped the importance of community for me early on. Growing up and navigating the duality of being Panjabi Sikh and Canadian gave me a specific perspective of what it meant to try to balance both identities, which influenced my storytelling.

Have you faced any challenges or resistance in bringing forth narratives that explore cultural nuances, gender, and inclusivity? How do you navigate such challenges?

I have felt that I have played so many different iterations of myself to survive. Only in the last few years have I felt completely free in my personhood. Living in the full expression of myself has been a long and challenging but rewarding journey. Bringing Your Love to life was a challenge. For the most part, we had a lot of love and support, but there were heartbreaking moments of bias within the community. In the end, we told our story on our terms.

Can you share your personal journey of self-discovery and acceptance as a member of the LGBTQ+ community?

Finding community here in LA has been so affirming. My chosen family and siblings are a source of hope and inspiration. There is one soul in particular for whom I’m very grateful. D’Lo a masterful storyteller, comedian, actor, writer, and co-conspirator, pulled me into community, and I cannot express what a heart-centered artist he is.

In what ways do you think society’s perception and acceptance of LGBTQ+ individuals have evolved over the years?

I feel hopeful. There is more awareness, but our community has much work to do. Sometimes queer folks like me can feel tokenized. I think there is a difference between inclusion and integration. Sitting at the table is lovely, but if your input isn’t valued or considered, it’s akin to an empty chair.

What advice would you give to other LGBTQ+ individuals who may be struggling with self-acceptance or facing discrimination?

You don’t have to make yourself small to exist, and all of the intersections of your identity, and culture can exist together. There is so much pressure during the month of pride. Coming out is a privilege that not everyone has. The only person you need to come out to is yourself.

In pursuing your passion as a storyteller, how do you express your identity, particularly considering the cross-cultural aspects of your background?

Every story I tell has a piece of me in it, whether I’m telling that story on the page, in front of the camera, or behind it. 

Your latest project, “Your Love,” chronicles the love story of two South Asian women. What inspired this story, and what message do you hope to convey through it?

The story was inspired by a woman who came out in her late 60s and set to the re-imagined song Ik Tera Piyaar by Khanvict. This film is my love letter to our Queer South Asian elders and their untold and unfinished love stories. The heart of the story is that all love, especially queer love is timeless and never a phase.

How do you believe storytelling can foster understanding and empathy across cultures and identities?

I feel storytelling is a powerful tool for change. If I can share a story and make you feel something, then maybe I can make you think differently about a world you have never thought of before.

Are there any other specific themes or projects you’re excited to explore in your storytelling journey?

I worked with brilliantly talented writer/director Rippin Sindher and her brother Gurinder on Flight 182, a short film based on a true story about the Air India tragedy. Rippin was one of the winners of the prestigious CAPE grant, and working with her and her team was a dream come true. It is my first film in Panjabi, and I’m so proud to be part of it. We’re entering into the festival world and I can’t wait to share it.


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