In the words of the late Jack Nichols, Raj Ayyaris ‘a multi-faceted gadfly, teasing students and the general community to rethink their lives, prodding people away from dumb dogmas, close-minded fundamentalisms and one who promotes cultural diversity’.
Raj straddles many worlds with effortless multicultural ease. A U.S. citizen of Indian origin, he has taught Philosophy, World Religions and Humanities at many colleges in the U.S. including Brevard Community College FL, Laney College, West Valley College, the University of Phoenix, all in CA, and many others for 20+ years.
Not content with the academic ivory tower, Raj is also a facilitator of personal growth and cross-cultural diversity trainings for students, corporate executives and interested members of several different communities. He has been active in on-campus HIV Education initiatives, Service Learning, and Study Abroad programs with a service component.
Raj has always had a passion for defending the rights of the underdog, whoever s/he may be, from oppressed queers in all nations to caste, racial, religious minorities. He played an active role in exposing lies and half-truths about Islam, rampant in the Bush administration, continuing into the Obama years, since 9/11. He believes in empowering the underdog to fight systematic oppression and marginalization.
He published many articles, interviews and reviews in Gay Today from 2000 to the time of Jack Nichols’ untimely death in ’05. In his LGBT writings, Raj steers the reader away from a Stonewall-centric white middle class paradigm, to an awareness of the rich polyphony of multiple LGBT cultures in the U.S. and around the world. His interviews with South Asian queer pioneers such as Ruth Vanita, in Gay Today, have reappeared in many avatars on other websites. Raj’s semi-narrative queer article ‘Yaari’, is on the recommended reading list of several Gender Studies and Queer Theory programs at universities in the U.S. and the U.K.
Currently on a year’s sabbatical in India, Raj plans to return to the U.S. soon, to write, teach and continue to provoke people to examine their thinking and their lives.