Guest Post: A Sikh Doctor’s View on Homosexuality

The concept of Oneness is at the core of the Sikh tradition. Most commonly this is espoused as seeing everybody equally without discrimination. However when it comes to the issue of sexual preference, we find ourselves less accepting and instead we begin to draw lines in the sand in terms of what we feel is correct or incorrect.

In reality Guru Nanak Dev Ji had a very different approach to humanity. The Guru introduced concept of Ik right at the beginning of Gurbani. To describe this concept as ‘equality’ does not do it justice. This is a much deeper understanding of what makes us alive, and what links each and every one of us. In essence, the Guru describes everything as One. Duality – the method through which we begin to divide the word into distinctions – is the root cause of ego and therefore the root cause of human suffering. To say that one person is separate to another is to misunderstand Ik. To say that you identify an individual based on their differing sexuality is to use one’s own dualistic intellect to override the very fundamentals of Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s message.

In fact in terms of spirituality, sexual preference is irrelevant. It is neither good nor bad. It simply is. It exists, whether we like it or not. How we feel about other people’s sexual preferences is completely irrelevant to their existence. We can kid ourselves by saying that a particular type of sexuality is against Sikhi, but to do so is utterly pointless. Not only does this attitude highlight our own lack of understanding of Sikhi, it is an attitude which has absolutely no spiritual value. You are not going to find the Oneness within yourself by saying that part of that Oneness should not exist.

The Guru does not exclude any individual group from Gurbani’s message. In fact the message crosses the boundaries of sexual preference, gender, and even religion. The message is about something much bigger than all of these things and we are in grave danger of missing the point.

Let’s be clear. By the mere fact it exists, homosexuality is part of Ik and part of Hukam. The Guru advises us to see the world as One and to flow with the tide of Hukam.

Who are we to argue?

Love Against The Odds

I was contacted by a TV production company who are looking to explore relationships with diverse couples. More info follows:

The series is about changing relationships in modern Britain and we’re looking to speak to interfaith and culturally diverse couples who are looking to get engaged but are worried about how their families may react.

We’re particularly interested in representing the Sikh community as we feel that Sikhism has very often been underrepresented on the major UK channels.

The series will be a 9pm six part series on one of the top 4 UK channels & more info is available on our website.

Sikh Mother speaks to other parents about homosexuality in Punjabi!

This video is absolutely amazing. A very brave Birmingham based Gay Sikh records a conversation between himself and his mum in Punjabi about homosexuality. In the video she talks about unconditional love for her son, how God designed him in this way and how forced marriages are doomed to fail. If anyone needs help or advice about coming out and their parents speak Punjabi, please show this video. The message is so much more powerful when spoken in Punjabi. 

The Love that Knows Much Shame @ London’s Southbank – Can you be both LGBT and South Asian in Britain Today?

Yesterday I had the privilege to attend a debate at Londons Southbank as part of an annual Alchemy Festival. The debate topic was “Can you be both LGBT and South Asian in Britain today?”. This topic is EXACTLY why this blog exists. So many people think being homosexual is a western thing, it’s a choice and if you’re Asian, you can’t be Gay.

The panel consisted of five members (initialed to retain anonymity):

  • R.A (Chair) is the Co-Founder and Director of The Equality Academy.
  • A.G is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief at SHOR (a creative online portal reflecting South Asian LGBTQ lives worldwide).
  • F.M Director of Faith Matters, working to reduce extremism, interfaith and intra-faith tensions.
  • H.S is a Lawyer specializing in parenting for infertile Gay and Lesbian couples.
  • B.T is a producer of live performance with a particular interest in contemporary peripheral narratives, those falling outside of mainstream.

The debate began by each member saying a bit about their past and what they wish for the future. Everyone had very empowering speeches, the two that stuck out for me were by A.G and H.S.

A.G had a very powerful story. Due to being a Lesbian, she had to leave her family for four long years. They didn’t accept her for who she was; a lot of credit needs to be given, as it takes a very strong willed and dedicated person to stick to their beliefs. A.G (quite rightly) believes that she is a Lesbian, it’s not a choice and she did not want to be forced back into the closet by anyone. During those four years away, her family missed her greatly and I believe were taught the lesson that being Gay isn’t a choice and you should accept your children for whomever they are. I’m pleased to say, she is now back in touch with her family, they are supportive but there’s still a long way to go. For example, the Gay and Lesbian word still isn’t spoken.

H.S’s speech made me smile. She is a Married Sikh Mother of two. She spoke about her difficulties around mentioning same sex marriage and how she actively goes out speaking to homophobic people whilst helping same sex couples in parenting.

After the intro’s the topic was opened up to the audience and we got to hear from a lesbian couple with kids who lived in India (hassle free) and a photographer who came across problems with LGBT Asian art amongst others.

Watching this debate was so engaging, I had to remind myself, that we were all getting together speaking about South Asian LGBT issues. This is HUGE! If more events like this happened, in time, being a South Asian Gay would not be an issue. As it was mentioned many times, simply the action of planting a seed can achieve so much.

In my opinion, many South Asian families think being Gay involves going dancing all the time, being promiscuous and not leading a family lifestyle. Coming from this event, it was quite obvious that is NOT the case and there are plenty of South Asian LGBT’s living in London.

As A.G put it, your sexuality doesn’t define how good a person you are, your actions towards others does.

Man jailed for murdering his wife

Today, a man named Jasvir Ginday was found guilty for murdering his wife of 6 months because she may expose his homosexuality. Full story here.

No one made him commit this crime, he is completely responsible for his crime, however, I feel it’s important to dig down and see what lead him to kill his wife.

I don’t even know where to begin, there is SO much wrong with this. Firstly, there’s the immense pressure his family must have put on him to ‘conform’. By them making him marry against his will, and him possibly believing he can ‘get over it’ drove him to murder!

Then you have to question his support network (in terms of friends etc). It’s very likely he knew some gay people, what did they think about his marriage proposals?

I personally feel pity for him but also for his family, not only have they lost their son, but they also have to explain to their daughter-in-laws family why they let something like this continue. Surely if they didn’t pressurise him to get married or showed him that homosexuality is not a problem, none of this wouldve happened. He would be in a better place and she would be alive.

To reiterate, Jasvir made the decision to kill his wife and that’s something he’ll have to live with for the rest of his life. Being convicted and sent to jail is the correct outcome.

His family and extended community are also to blame.

Are LGBT Asians Underrepresented in Britain?

A few weeks ago Aftab Ali,kindly invited me to write a piece for the Glasgow Journal outlining whether I think Asian LGBT are underrepresented in Britain. The short answer is a resounding YES, below’s my article, or you can read it here on the Glasgow Journal

It seems there are many people who think being Asian and gay is not possible, so it is important to understand why this way of thinking exists.

Looking at some of today’s gay role models, there is Tim Cook (CEO of Apple), K.D. Lang, Sir Elton John, Ellen and Sir Ian McKellen. But, what do they all have in common? They’re white. Is it surprising then that Asian parents today are ignorant to the idea of Asian gays when only a select few people are glorified in the media?

There is no doubt that, in the future, coming out as an Asian gay will be easier but how can it be made make it easier sooner? It’s simple: we need positive gay Asian role models.

Currently, there is a quirky Big Brother contestant and maybe the odd drag queen. Both aren’t prominent in the media so may never get discussed in an everyday Asian household.

There are many successful Asian gays out there, so why haven’t they come out to make it easier for others?

When I started Gay Sikh—my blog which outlines how homosexuality and Sikhism can co-exist—I received a lot of online abuse. Many claimed I was bringing evil into Sikhism and some even claimed I wasn’t even Sikh and that I was out to tarnish the name of the religion.

The reality of the situation is that, when society is not educated or exposed to something, it is quick to judge and reject it. This is how racism and homophobia continues to exist today.

When I was faced with this homophobia, it was important for me not to show anger, but I was curious as to why people were coming to these decisions. After all, they believe they’re doing right, don’t they?

Unfortunately, some simply wanted to “gay bash” me. For example, I received a graphic tweet from one man who depicted how he was going to torture and kill members of my immediate family after he’d seen my blog.

This is among the reasons why no Asian gays have come into the spotlight. Sadly, it’s the reason I live under an alias. Yes, I want to help others and show them that being gay and Sikh is not a problem and that they’re not alone. But, at the same time, I fear for my safety from the many people out there who need to be educated on such matters.

Only last month, Bobby Friction was not invited to the BritAsia TV Music Awards because he jokingly kissed Hardeep Singh Kohli on stage. Both of these men are heterosexual and were clearly showing their sense of humour. This example only further highlights the fact that homophobia is rife in Asian circles.

So, how can this be overcome? As mentioned earlier, it will get easier as time goes on. In 2008, Indian cinema had a breakthrough when a rom-com film called Dostana showed two straight Indian men pretending to be a gay couple and embarking on hilarious adventures together.

With equal marriage now legal in England and Wales, and soon to be voted on by the Scottish Parliament, it is only a matter of time before this topic gets discussed in Asian households. The only hope is that it will leading to a greater understanding of homosexuality. With this greater understanding, we may just see positive gay Asian role models emerge and, once these role models are established, British-Asian gays will, for the first time, be truly represented.

Evolution and the Gay Gene

Mr Singh posted a comment on my Why Start This Blog? entry. He disagreed with homosexuality within Sikhism and used Charles Darwin’s theory of Evolution to prove his point. He also insinuated that the existence of the gay gene would result in “instant death”. I’ve decided to reply in form of a blog as there’s quite a lot to cover.

Mr Singh, thank you for you comments. I really value your input and welcome your statements which I rather take as questions and assumptions. Each one of us is on a journey for learning, it’s evident that you have much more to learn.


Vaheguru Ji Ka Khalsa, Vaheguru Ji Ki Fateh

You have stated on your Instagram account that being gay is something genetic. You also say that modern science proves this. Well unfortunately so called ‘modern science’ is delayed as it is only discovering new things which our gurus gave us the knowledge about centuries ago. Here is a solid argument to why being gay is not right and more of a disease:

Charles Darwin’s theory of Evolution by Natural Selection condemns being gay. Variation exists within a population and mutations occur. Mutations happen constantly however only mutations which help a species survive are kept. This has now become a gene. This is then passed on to the next generation by breeding.

By having a so called ‘gay gene’ will completely condemn concrete evidence of Evolution. The ‘gay gene’ cannot survive as it means instant death for a species as it means it will no longer be able to breed and therefore survive, because after all, it’s all about survival.

If there was a so called ‘gay gene’, how would it be passed on as gay people have no offspring so therefor is purely and environmental affect rather than a chemical affect.

I absolutely agree that modern science is only discovering things now which religious scholars have figured out hundreds of years ago. It’d be arrogant of scientists or atheist people who believe in science to dismiss religion as it has brought forth so much of knowledge and understanding. “There can never be a conflict between true science and true religion, because they both describe reality.”I am not a scientist so what I have to say is only based on the numerous studies I’ve been reading coupled with experience of myself and stories of others. I find that there are some logical flaws in your arguments which stem from ignorance of certain facts.

The gay gene does not mean instant death. Humans (gay or not) both live to the age of 70-80, sexuality is irrelevant. I do hope you’re not trying to imply that being gay is a choice as this is completely untrue. Do you think the whole meaning of life for straight humans is to pro-create? If so, you may wish to reconsider this, humans have much more to contribute to society.

Think of infertile people, last year an infertile gene was identified. Now if infertility existed many years ago and still does today, that would disprove your argument about genes needing to survive. There definitely isn’t an “instant death” of infertile humans as you suggest.

Regarding the gay gene, this actually isn’t agreed upon by all scientists, like evolution, it’s a theory. But so far, it’s the best we’ve got and seems more and more likely based on many research projects. However, what scientists and psychologists do agree on, is that being homosexual is natural and not changeable. Suppressing it (as you suggest) doesn’t work but leads to depression and a dysfunctional human being (and we all know that dysfunctional humans will not contribute optimal to society). Just wikipedia “Conversion therapy”.

Back to the gay gene. As far as I understand, this isn’t passed on. Otherwise we’d be seeing generations of gays one after another. My parents are straight and so are their parents. Gay people are born to anyone.

I know of a lesbian partaking in IVF with a gay man and they produced a straight son. The gay gene evidently isn’t passed on.

The left handed gene was only identified last month by the University of Oxford, I think you know where I’m going with this, left handed humans do not produce only left handed offspring!

In addition I would like to bring this back to Sikhi, our gurus lived the perfect life style and are our role models. None of the gurus were gay, so why should we be? By saying it is okay to be gay, is going beyond what guru Ji tells us, and therefore implies you are higher than Guru Ji.

The questions which I had originally addressed to you was if everyone was gay, how would the human race survive?

Forgive me if my opinions have offended you, but if I ask for forgiveness on guru jis teachings, then that is my sn. I hope maharaj does kirpa on you and helps you understand that you have misinterpreted guru jis message
Bhul chuk di maaf,

Vaheguru Ji Ka Khalsa, Vaheguru Ji Ki Fateh

Dhan guru, Dhan hai Teri Sikhi

I think every human being can have several meanings in life. Several roles. To play one’s part in society. To do good to others. For that, I don’t need to produce. Unicef tells us that there are 132 million orphans in the world, many of whom were abandoned by their parents. In an ideal world, couples would adopt them but I know many straight people  who are unwilling to do so. In fact, this seems to be the vast majority of straight couples. Perhaps one life purpose of some homosexuals is to look after these children? In the UK, 4% of adopted children are taken in by same-sex parents (12.5% in York!) and the trend is growing. Surely, this is beneficial to society given that science is telling us, same-sex parents are just as good.

Perhaps you’re also missing another point about being gay. Nobody on earth thinks that all humans are gay (this is completely absurd and a comment in which you may wish to seriously consider retracting). If this were so, you’d be right, we’d experience a huge drop in population. As far as I’m aware, we are struggling with overpopulation in most places. The UN tells us that in the last 20 years, earth’s population grew by 20%.

Gay people have, are and always will be a minority, just like white peacocks or lions. This doesn’t mean they are entitled to be discredited by people like you, open your eyes and begin treating all as equal.

Back to the point, here is a link to around 20 studies on the percentage of the population that is not straight. It seems to suggest a margin between 1-10%. Although we know that nowadays lesbians and gays have arrangements or medical ways to produce offspring, even if 10% of humans stopped reproducing, would humanity be doomed to extinction?

The Gurus are our role models. And I strive for their model for a committed and monogamous relationship without lust but pure love, don’t you? Now, if you’re saying you can only have it with either one of the two genders, it doesn’t seem to go with the teaching that all humans are equal. Why do all Sikhs have unisex names? Gender isn’t as important as we take it.

It doesn’t make us that different. A woman and a man can be the perfect couple but also can two men or two woman. Because it’s the human that matters. Not the gender or the genitalia.

You have not offended me. I welcome our debate and wish for both of us to be open to ideas and learning so that we both can come to a better understanding of our Guru’s message.

Coming out

So far this blog has been all about Homosexuality and Sikhism, I don’t usually post personal entries but feel this compliments the blog quite well. This is my coming out story.

My mother and I used to have a very strong relationship whilst growing up, we were best friends. I’d always make jokes with her and we’d laugh constantly. I’d look forward to her picking me up from school or the weekends where we’d go and play in the park. Both my parents raised me very well, although I’d always had a stronger emotional bond with my mother.

When I was 21, I was ready to come out to her. She’d raised me to be open and honest, I’d always have her unconditional love, “what’s to lose?” I thought. I sat her down, told her I had something important to reveal. She seemed noticeably concerned, now in usual coming out stories, the child is usual scared, heart beating frantically or stuttering. I was none of these, I was so comfortable around my mum, I could speak without being scared of her reaction, we were that close. When I uttered the words “Mum, I’m Gay”, she looked shocked and her face dropped. Instantly she said, and I remember these words vividly, “don’t worry, we’ll fix you”. I was confused, she didn’t embrace me with a hug or show any happiness towards me, instead she showed sympathy. What was to fix? I’m not ill, I know being Gay isn’t a choice or some crazy curse, but does she? She’s worked with gay people in the past so I didn’t think it would be a big issue, it was.

I was told to stop hanging out with Gay people as they can easily influence me, try and be more of a man. Deep down inside this didn’t sit well, why would I want to do something against my wishes knowing it wouldn’t change anything, but there was an overwhelming urge to please my mother. I knew it’d be easier for her acceptance in the long run, if I tried what she said. We agreed to pray every night to “fix” me and I’d keep a distance from my Gay friends. Usually this would increase a bond between my Mother and I, but this was the moment the bond began to weaken. My father was not to know of this conversation as it would break him. “What about me?” I thought.

Every night, I didn’t pray for a fix, but I prayed for happiness, I prayed for my  parents acceptance. I knew my mother was doing the best she could, she has no idea about Homosexuality except it’s something only Westerners do, so there’s no chance her son was one. Understandbly she thought that I thought I was Gay and it was a passing phase. Everything she did and said was because she loved me and wanted the best for me. The final comments of that conversation severely deflated me, “You’re either my son, or  you’re Gay, not both”. Inside a big bomb had blown up, is my mother disowning me?

Many months past and we never spoke about my sexuality, in fact the next day felt like the conversation didn’t happen at all. I was relieved, I didn’t want to go through any more pain. My mother would occasionally push me back into the closet by saying things like “When you get a wife, we’ll buy you a great house”, or when family members say I should be married soon, Mum’d reply saying, yes he should be married within the year. All lies, she knew it and I knew it. Our relationship was now in shreds, I was short tempered with her (deep down I was hurting, but that’s no excuse), she knew why. We spoke about it briefly twice in the coming 8 years, but it’s safe to say I was pushed back into the closet every time and I didn’t fight to stay out.

By now I was very upset, I did as my mother suggested and no good has come out of it. I had to get out of this, I began learning about homosexuality and also my religion. “Surely if I didn’t choose to be Gay and my religion is an exclusive one, how could she reject me?” I told myself.  I didn’t care whether she did, a parent is one whom loves their child unconditionally and if she’s willing to drop me, then I should accept that and move on. It sounds harsh, but I don’t want her to suffer, I know it sounds bizarre.

Most recently, I came out for the 4th and final time. Before meeting her, I knew what I wanted to say, how I was going to say it and I would be out for good, no going back! We hardly speak so when I arranged dinner, it was unusual, she was a bit nervous as was I. We both knew what the topic was but meandered around different family topics for an hour, it was a nice calm introduction to what could potentially be quite destructive.

I uttered the words, but this time with a much more confidence voice, “Mum, I’m Gay”. She looked bemused and said “I thought we’d dealt with this?”. I told her how I think our relationship has dwindled from her rejection of my sexuality and I really wish to rekindle it. I apologised for my behaviour and she was so relieved, she was so happy that I was speaking to her and wanting to show her love and affection (the Gay issue was sidelined, but I wanted her to be at ease so we continued along this path). We reminisced about my childhood and the good times. I told her I want that back, I want to have fun and jokes with you and I want our bond to be strengthened, “I’m here saying I want to show you love and be more in  you life”. She was happy, but the Gay issue hadn’t been dealt with.

She again tried to imply I should hang out more with straight people. I politely told her I have friends of all colours and sexualitites and I’m not a follower, I know who I am and what I am, no one is going to influence me, even if they did, being a Gay Sikh can be a difficult life, why would I choose it? I then proceeded to tell her about Science proving it’s not a choice and it’s genetic and also about how within Sikhism, we are told to show love and be open and honest with one another. I want to be a better Sikh and this is one step I’m taking. She was shocked, I don’t think she realised how much effort I’d gone to to understand my life as a Gay Sikh.  We spoke in depth about whom I’m come out to within the family and how Sikhism is helping me be more strong. She listened a lot, didn’t show any anger, showed interested instead. I felt as if I was educating my own mother.

We spoke about finding girls attractive which I found awkward! However, it had to be done, I had to tell her, I didn’t find women sexually attractive but instead men. She then told me to try being straight, which was pointless. I used the analogy about being born with blonde hair and wishing to be brown, you can cover it up, but you’ll always know deep down you’re blonde and that’s the REAL you. I don’t want a life of misery, I don’t want a marriage of convenience and I certainly don’t want a divorce! She began to understand.

We left with me saying I’ll answer all the questions she has and will be honest. However I didn’t want to push for her opinion straight away, instead told her to think about it and come back to me when she’s ready. A lot had been said and she needed time to process.

Since then, we’ve texted a lot more regularly and each text ends with a smiley, so things are looking good. She told me she doesn’t want to lose me, she won’t.



The Asian World publishes my story on being a British Gay Sikh

The Asian World is a monthly magazine targeting South Asians living predominately in the Midlands. This magazine is read by over 150,000 people a month so you can imagine by delight when I was offered an opportunity to write an article! The brief I had was to write a short article outlining my coming out and reaction from the community. I had to avoid all religious references (which makes sense due to the vast readership) and instead focus more on the social acceptance side of things. It’s on page 37, you can read it online here or below:

“When I was in secondary school, I often found myself having gay thoughts, finding myself attracted to the same gender, how could this be possible? Surely I’m not gay! Back then, I was told being gay is something “Western”, something that is reserved for white people and there’s no possible way that any Asian, let alone Sikh could be gay. I believed this, but somehow these thoughts wouldn’t settle. I always assumed my peers had these thoughts but were never spoken about. At the age of 21, I refused to let this battle in my head continue. I finally decided to explore these thoughts. Luckily I had a friend who was openly gay and we struck up a very strong platonic relationship. He introduced me to other gay people. For the first time in my life, nothing made sense. How can all these people, Lesbians, Gays, Transgenders all be happy with who they are, and why is nobody laughing and pointing? The more I explored this side of life, the more the thoughts in my head began to make sense. No longer did I feel I was living a lie, instead I was able to speak what I thought and not fear of being judged.

In my social circle, there is a mix of males, females, straights, gays, Christians, Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs. We have celebrated religious festivals in the past, been to places of worship and have had long weekend holidays away. This is nothing different from your average friends circle.  Just because I am gay doesn’t mean that anything is different.

I’ve never had a problem with homophobic abuse, lots of people looked, yes, but this was a look of shock, confusion, never one of anger. In fact, some smiled and nodded their heads. What would your reaction be if you saw a guy wearing a Turban holding hands with another guy? ”

Gay Sikh article in The Asian World

Gay Sikh article in The Asian World

Guest on Gay Marriage BBC Radio with Manni Masih

Yesterday I was a guest of Manni Mashi’s evening radio show where the discussion topic was Gay Marriage. You can stream it from iPlayer (about 1hr 20mins in) or download the MP3 here.

Gurdial Singh was a representative from the Siri Guru Singh Sabha Gurdwara in Bristol who also featured on this show. Generally speaking, the outcome was positive. He reinforced that we, as Sikhs, do not discriminate and are accepting of everybody. When asked if a gay couple could get a blessing in his Gurdwara, he said it would be allowed!

However, he didn’t agree to a same sex marriage in a Gurdwara. He quite rightly said the Rehat Maryada (the Sikh Code of Conduct) explicity states that a marriage must be between a man and woman. This is true and I have tackled this topic in my previous post here. He also seemed to imply that reproduction is the main reason for marriage and thus in my opinion, invalidated same sex marriages.

Overall, the outcome was good. If more and more Sikhs share the same thoughts as Gurdial Singh (in terms of not being homophobic and more accepting), then I believe same-sex marriages within a Gurdwara will soon follow. It’s important to take small steps to ensure the community has a solid understanding that being a Gay Sikh is not a contradictory term at all.