Being gay has its own set of challenges and struggles in a world that still thinks homosexuality is to be condemned or has to be ‘treated‘. But, it is doubly hard when you are a minority within the minority, and you have no one you can look upto or identify with.
I realised I was gay when I was a teen. I spent a few years getting to know more about my own sexuality and getting comfortable with it. I read up articles online and joined support communities too. As a young gay boy in the closet, reading the coming out stories of individuals and seeing out-and-proud people from the LGBTQ community filled me with joy and hope.
I also found various articles on how Hinduism is accepting of LGBTQ people, how the story of Lot (or Lut) has been misunderstood in Islam and Christianity. However, I never came across an article/book that would also talk about what my own religion (Sikhism) said/thought about this issue.
While it was nice to read the stories of other gay Indians, I was always looking for another person like me – gay and Sikh- to whom I could relate to on a more personal level.
For a long time, it felt like I was the only Sikh person who was gay. I remember how elated I was when I first came across another gay Sikh man, even though he was miles away from me. As I came out eventually and got more involved with the LGBTQ community, I was also made aware of my religious identity by fellow community members.
I would be outrightly rejected by many people because of my religious identity, while others would ask me how could I be Sikh and gay, and that I was bringing disrepute to the Sikh community. Many profiles would also mention “No Sikhs,” or “No Sardars.”
I have since met many gay Sikhs and have found they all have had similar experiences both within the community and from society at large. I have also written a couple of articles on Sikhism and homosexuality and even contributed a chapter on the topic in the book I Am Divine So Are You.
In the 10 years of my activism, I have realised that resources for LGBTQ Sikhs are almost non-existent, and many LGBTQ Sikhs still grapple with issues that I faced growing up.
Movies can be a powerful medium to tell a story, and thus, I embarked on a journey two-and-a-half years ago to document the lives and experiences of queer Sikhs. The documentary features 5 Sikhs, of different orientations and gender identities, sharing their experience of growing up as someone from the LGBTQ community, navigating their faith and sexuality/gender identity and the challenges they face in their life – from family, society and the LGBTQ community.
The documentary also incorporates the current view of the Sikh clergy, and we have shot with a Granthi (priest) of Gurudwara Bangla Sahib too.
This is the first-ever Indian documentary on the topic of Sikhism and homosexuality, and I hope that it will act as an important resource for LGBTQ Sikhs all around, and also start a positive discussion within the Sikh community.
While we have completed the shoot without access to any kind of funds we are now looking for support to finish the documentary, which is stuck in post-production. We have launched a crowdfunding campaign for the documentary on Ketto to help us finish what we set out for two years ago. You too can help us by contributing to our campaign.
You can watch a short trailer below: