What was it like growing up?
I was born and raised in Manila, Philippines to a Sikh family. Growing up, I often asked myself What is love? What is sex? What is abuse? I did not fit in into societal norm that media tries to convey. I always knew I was gay, but I had to suppress it because it is not accepted in the hetero-mainstream society. Overcoming bullying as a child, sexually abused by a family member, introduced to sex in my childhood years, and confusion on the concept of religion, at home (Sikhism) and at school (Catholic) was also part of my growing up. I had to define religion myself along the way in that everybody is treated with respect and equality,
How did you come out? What does that mean to you?
I came out to my parents who were visiting me in Canada at that time and my parents tried to push the marriage thing on me in order to get permanent residence as fast and efficient as possible. After I came out, statements from my parent’s were like “This is abnormal, you need a psychiatrist,” ” why are you choosing this path?”, “That’s a sin in the eyes of Guru Nanak,” “Medicine will cure you,” Until today, I’m 24. They are still silent on this topic and don’t want to discuss it. That’s fine with me, I have to live my life without regrets. Coming out to me means freedom from the lies of media, coming out means to be proud as a person and create my own path by loving myself and fully understand the depth of life and my existence in this world.
What has been your inspiration in life?
My inspiration in life is the pain, struggle, and growth that I endured in my life. I am a spiritual person and always connected to God and the universe whether its sadness or happiness. I am inspired by myself and the experiences of other queer South Asians. The fight for existence, the fight for immigrant status in Canada, fight for being queer South Asian, and fight for independence is very inspiring for me and for others. Our life is not limited to one thought or one view what media tells us to believe. We just expect that we have to accept and love ourselves in order to attain full happiness and be able to love and appreciate others.
What has been some of your greatest achievements?
The greatest achievement is to love myself and to love God, universe, and higher power. To achieve permanent resident status in Canada despite being taken advantage of in the workplace. The perseverance and patience that I have achieved through conflicts and struggles in life. The love and support that I achieved from friends and acquaintances.
What is your message to the world?
I would like to share to the world that always do what you love most and appreciate your life as a wonderful journey. There will be obstacles, but we just have to deal with it along the way and challenge ourselves so that we can strive and succeed in this world.
Everyone should identify what they are good at, not just blindly following others. Be unique and awesome and try to make a difference in the world. Hard work will pay off in the end.
You’ve got one life and mind as well … make the most of it and bring Change and Empowerment to the world.
Jaspreet Singh Chahal is a gay activist and Sikh immigrant based in Surrey, B.C. He is proud to officially become a permanent resident after seven and a half years of living in Canada. Jaspreet is currently employed as a sales representative.