Watch: LGBTQ Punjabis from Diaspora in Canada Share the Challenges of Being Sikh and LGBTQ

Two University of British Columbia (UBC) students, Rhea Bassan and Palvi Sandhar, created a short documentary on activism in the Punjabi LGBTQ+ community in Vancouver, Canada for a class-based research project. Both of them are Punjabi women pursuing Punjabi Studies program at UBC.

The documentary stars Sher Vancouver Women’s Group Facilitator Jag Nagra and Sher Vancouver Founder Alex Sangha both of whom are born into Punjabi Sikh families.

“We decided to create a documentary film about Punjabi LGBTQ+ experiences and activism in the Lower Mainland, because as allies, we know that these identities exist, but that they tend to be alienated or excluded from Punjabi society. This semester, we took an Asian Studies course called “Documenting Punjabi Canada” (ASIA 475) and decided to use this opportunity to create this film project to provide even more visibility for this community,” state Rhea Bassan and Palvi Sandhar in a joint statement.

In the video, which is 12 minutes and 40 seconds long, both Alex and Jag share about coming out to their families, accepting their own sexuality, and the challenges they face being from a punjabi Sikh family. They also talk about setting up a group – SHER Vancouver- for LGBTQ Sikhs living in Canada, and how their activism has led to change of attitudes among the Sikh population there. Alex shares how the local Gurudwara had once denied that any Gay Sikhs existed, and how after 8 years, they invited LGBTQ Sikh contingent to take part in the annual Vaisakhi parade that happens in Vancouver and also agreed to work with Sher Vancouver for LGBTQ Sikhs.

Sukhdeep Singh