Community organizer turned performance-activist Devi K traded in their megaphone for a microphone about seven years ago and hasn’t looked back since.
After realizing that they could help fight transphobia by delivering messages that challenged audiences onstage, K helped start the artist-activist group Peacock Rebellion in 2012, working to elevate the voices of queer and trans people of color (QTPOC) by putting on performances and festivals aimed at using stand-up comedy to practice social justice.
“I think there is something really powerful about comedy that can really reach people and make fun of absurd status quos and norms and subvert them,” they said. “Storytelling has the power to dramatically change a person’s political views.”
Peacock Rebellion was created, K explained, in order to help fill the need for social justice work that transcends the individual and focuses on the collective power of communities. Their first cabaret show, called “Agen(c)y: Nonprofit Dreams + Disasters” was based on K’s early experiences in non-profit grassroots organizing, and featured a satirical depiction of chaotic check-in areas, along with shoddy PowerPoints.
While starting out in advocacy work, as a regional organizer planning marches and protests in Washington, D.C., K has always been a storyteller at heart. For K, telling stories is a form of survival. A self-described “scrawny, queer Hindu” who grew up in Pennsylvania — where racism and homophobia was especially prevalent — K learned to crack jokes as a means of escapism at an early age. K routinely performed skits at their Hindu temple and wrote raunchy songs at the Catholic school they attended.