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This chapter reflects fieldwork in Chicago among gay/queer-identified South Asian or desi men in the early 2000s, focusing on their articulated desires for a “community.” As such, it serves as a historical text, contextualizing more contemporary queer desi aspirations, desires, and formations in Chicago. The essay argues that desi gay men's desire for community at the turn of the century in Chicago signaled a social formation whose contours were crystallized largely through engagements with normativity. By heeding Roderick Ferguson's call to place normativity front and center, it explores past productions and regulations of ethnic, racial,gender, sexual, and class normativity – the contours of queer and racial becoming – among desis. And through engagements with other queer orientations in Chicago, captured in this essay by one iconic Pakistani figure, it gestures toward alternative queer futures and the possibilities for crafting a different kind of “brown commons” (Munoz 2020).

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