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Haydr Dutta and ALOK

Visible and Vocal: A New Gift Created The Endowed LGBTQ+ Scholar-In-Residence at Penn

On a mild spring night at the Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, Haydr Dutta, C’26, was backstage preparing to introduce ALOK, an internationally acclaimed author, poet, comedian, and public speaker whose work explores themes of trauma, belonging, and the human condition.

On stage, Haydr’s confident demeanor matched their heartfelt introduction. ALOK, in pink earrings, glittering eyeliner, and a vintage dress that stopped short of their hairy calves, did not disappoint.

ALOK, a gender non-conforming South Asian performance artist, is the inaugural Endowed LGBTQ+ Scholar-in-Residence, a residency made possible by an anonymous $2 million gift to Penn’s LGBT Center. Many Penn students were first introduced to ALOK on Instagram, where they regularly share thought-provoking posts and colorful couture outfits with their 1.2 million followers. During their four-day residency, ALOK presided over graduate classes, led workshops, gave the comedy and poetry performance, and shared meals with students. Throughout these public and private events, discussions ranged from trans identity and trauma to radical love, belonging, and the human condition.