Five questions with amazing queer South Asians from around the world

Amar

Photo Credit:  Sandra Minarik

What was it like growing up?

I was born in Kent, England into a Sikh Punjabi Family.  My parents separated shortly after their arrival in Canada.  I was raised by my mother.  My mother was very spiritual, non-judgemental, and accepting about my differences and diversity including my sexuality.  My father still to this day has a hard time accepting my gayness, especially me being out and proud about it.

How did you come out?

I was not happy being gay in my teens.  I secretly went to see a child psychiatrist hoping to become straight.  Not surprisingly, this did not work.  The psychiatrist helped me accept myself and come out.  When I graduated from high school their was no internet and I had no cell phones and I didn’t know anyone who was gay.  I felt alienated, isolated, lonely, and depressed often.  I began to meet queer people at college and university and started to feel good about myself, especially when I discovered that people like Alexander the Great and Michelangelo were gay and/or bisexual.

What has been your inspiration in life?

My inspiration is the Creator and my mother.  I am very spiritual and feel God would not have created gay people if he wanted them to suffer.  I feel it is the duty of all people to help the marginalized, oppressed, and vulnerable and this includes gays and lesbians.

What has been some of your greatest achievements?

I am proud of launching the DOSTI project which is an anti-bullying, racism, and homophobia workshop as well as founding Sher Vancouver and creating a community of people where queer South Asians and their allies can connect, meet, find support, and not feel alone.  I am also proud of my third book Catalyst and the Dignity House project that I helped initiate.  Dignity House is a proposal to develop affordable housing for gay and lesbian seniors in Vancouver.  I am also excited about the Sher Vancouver Out and Proud Project because I feel it is an opportunity to create public awareness and educate the mainstream public about the issues queer South Asians face and the great things they accomplish everyday, everywhere around the world.

What is your message to the world?

My message to the world is learn to love yourself and the rest will take care of itself.  Be proud, be free, and the direction your life will take will be limitless.

Alex Sangha is an award winning social worker, author, and human rights activist based in Surrey, B.C.  For more information on Alex check out his website http://alexsangha.com. Check out  Alex Sangha on Culture Vulture to discuss his social discussion book Catalyst (4 minutes). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UKBvXWG9PVU

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