Guest on BBC Radio Gloucestershire

This Sunday 10th February 2013 I will be a guest on BBC Radio Gloucestershire’s discussing life as an Asian Gay person. It will be pre-recorded around 4pm and broadcast between 6-8pm. Tune in :-)

Guest on BBC Asian Network about Equal Marriage

This morning I was asked to be a guest on Nihal’s Breakfast show on the BBC Asian Network radio station here in Britain. The topic of discussion was “If you are religious does that mean you have a duty to oppose gay marriage?”

It can be streamed from BBC iPlayer here, and downloaded as a MP3 here.

The whole experience was a very positive one. I was first introduced and gave a short speech about how I feel about this topic. As a religious person I know that there is no problem in being homosexual OR being married to a man. The Lavaan are a collection of 4 hymns that are sung during a Sikh wedding ceremony (Anand Karaj), in these hymns it quite clearly states the marriage is between two souls. Souls are genderless. Marriage is a union between God and the union of two souls. In short, the Lavaan is non-gender specific. This leads me to believe there is nothing stopping homosexuals from getting married in the Gurdwara.

A certain Dr Al-Hadad was also a guest on the show; he opposed equal marriage but I feel failed to persuade anyone. His views were very archaic and were dismissed by many tweeters as well as Nihal himself. The Doctor tried to say that its been scientifically proven that homosexual men are more likely to get infected with HIV. This is an absurd comment, scientifically implies genetically. What he is trying to say is somehow because we are genetically different, we are more susceptible in catching HIV. I’ve never heard such rubbish. I seriously doubt his qualification. Another point he made was in regards to how children need a male father and female mother. He believed that equal marriage shouldn’t be forced to children at school. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to respond. What I wanted to ask was whether he was told how to love and who to love at school. A school is a place of education. I do believe that kids should know homosexuals exist, its nothing to laugh about and its against the law to be homophobic. Personally, I doubt he has ever been in contact with an openly gay person before. I pity him, he needs educating desperately.

A lady from the North was next up, she was against equal marriage saying “it’s not natural”. That comment was quickly shunned when I simply told her it’s been proven that homosexuals are genetically different to heterosexuals. She believed that being gay was a choice. Even claiming she CHOSE to be straight. However when I asked her when she decided to NOT be a lesbian, her point was quickly invalidated.

On the whole, the experience was positive. I’m not gonna lie, it was quite nerve-wracking. However the plus points are that this blog has been advertised on an International radio station, the message about Gay Sikhs has been spoken about and therefore will be discussed. I really hope that my comments today made others think again about their negative thoughts on homosexuality. Being Gay and Sikh is not something contradictory, it’s not blasphemous and religiously speaking it’s perfectly acceptable having a homosexual marriage in a Gurdwara. Unfortunately, due to cultural differences, this is not possible.

Yet.

Doh! Twitter Suspension

It seems from all of yesterdays events Twitter has suspended my account. I’ve spoken to them and it’ll be back up tomorrow. In the mean time feel free to comment on this post.

Thanks!

UPDATE (24/01/2013) : Twitter have unsuspended my account, @GaySikh. Cheers guys(!)

UPDATE (26/01/2013): Been suspended again, no idea why Twitter why do this. Have appealed, waiting to hear back. If anyone knows why or how this process can be sped up, please comment below. Many thanks.

UPDATE (28/01/2013): Up again, here’s hoping it’ll stay up.

Twitter Exposure, Akal Takht & Gay Love

Last night was a real milestone for this site. As usual, I get comments from Straight Sikhs saying that I’m “disgracing” their religion and that there’s no space for Gay in Sikhi. This time around, the comments were read by some influential Sikhs on Twitter namely Hardeep Singh Kohli, Param_TakeMeOut and Sky News Singh. After their retweets and inclusion in debates (minus Sky News Singh), this account got a LOT of exposure. Visits to this site went through the roof, almost tripled!

The main lesson I can take from this site is the knowledge that there is a lot of educating left to do. Most negative comments I received where challenging me to explain how there is a place for homosexuality in Sikhism. Well we all know that the Guru Granth Sahib doesn’t mention homosexuality, so it’s up to the individual to create their own opinions after equipping themselves with all the knowledge. Some users quite rightly mentioned that the Akal Takht (the highest temporal authority for Sikhs) has condemned Gay marriage and strongly discourages homosexuality within Sikhism. My response was simple: as Sikhs, we are on a journey of discovery and we have our own independent connection with God. As gay people, we KNOW that God created us this way. So surely we are perfectly formed, the way God intended. So why discriminate? This goes against the core foundation of Sikhism which is to treat everyone equally.

Another comment raised was around expressing gay love. One Twitter user argued that the sole purpose for sex between a man and a woman is to reproduce. I can see their point of view, however, who genuinely follows this rule today? Majority of Sikhs express love regularly and are not considered any less of a Sikh because of this, so why should homosexual Sikhs? If anything, Guru Nanak didn’t believe in celibacy, he believed it wasn’t good suppressing the human bodys natural feelings. However he did stress that sex should be carried out moderately. I believe if you choose to live your life the way you see fit and as long as you are good to others, meditate and believe in one God then you are a true Sikh. Obviously that is a very high level view, but it’s a good start.

Thankfully, everyone that was against homosexuality within Sikhism wasn’t exactly homophobic. They all said they haven’t got a problem with homosexual people, they just wouldn’t see why this blog and myself are “promoting Sikhism” for gays. This is both good and bad: good in the way that they accept homosexuals but bad because they obviously think that homosexuality is a choice (how foolish would it be to think that no Sikh can be gay), more proof here and here. Some even suggested that I should choose between my religion and sexuality. Being gay wasn’t a choice, it’s how God created me. I was born into Sikhism and to keep it is my choice as I believe it is the right choice

From all the positive comments received, some were from young Sikh girls. They fully believe that being a Sikh homosexual is accepted and cannot understand why others think otherwise. It was so overwhelming reading these tweets as this younger generation really could show the older generation a thing or two about love, respect, honest and equality. The Sikhi lifestyle is growing :-)

Hardeep Singh Kohli supports Gay Sikh!

I got some support from none other than Mr Hardeep Singh Kohli. He’s also following @GaySikh:

  1. Hardeep Singh Kohli agrees with Gay Sikh’s! 

    “Feel the love…, I’m fully on-side x” 

    This is amazing! Hardeep Singh Kohli, an upstanding Sikh member of society, an author, chef, Radio 4 presenter, comedian and much more agrees with me! Homosexuality HAS got a place in Sikhism. He sent this message to all of his 20,000 followers. The word is being spread and I really hope more and more high profile celebrities like this begin to take note and help out. It’s so important to know that being gay is NOT a choice, it’s been proven, here’s a BBC article. This tweet was further retweeted by Brit Asia, definitely a date for my diary :-)

  2. World Sikh Heritage Trust 

    These guys have followed to show support.

Setting up the twitter account was definitely the right thing to do. I’m beginning to reach more people and in return will begin making them think about homosexuality within Sikhism. Many straight Sikhs whom don’t have gay friends may think its a Western cultural choice, when in fact it isn’t. Sikhism is all about equality and respect. In my opinion, if a Sikh is homophobic then he cannot be a true Sikh.

New Twitter Account – Why some Sikhs believe you cannot be Gay and Sikh

I opened a Twitter account @GaySikh a few days ago to further promote this site. My main aim for this account was to see how the public would respond to an account entitled Gay Sikh. As you can imagine some users found this name not only blasphemous but also misleading.

The first tweet I received was from @AmoSingh1 who clearly is homophobic, the tweet contained a very well designed poster from Sarbat.net:

Some Sikhs Are Gay... Get Over It!

He found it to be disgraceful. A typical response I thought. Following that, around 9 Sikh guys were involved in a message exchange where they were very angry that I was tarnishing the Sikh name and that there is no space for homosexuality within Sikhism. This was my target audience and my chance to educate and make aware, result!

@samra_007 was the most vocal. He knew his Gurbani very well and had a good understanding of what a good Sikh should do. In our debate, he made some very good arguments:

  1. Sikh Wedding
    “..ever heard the Shabad ‘Tau Paleh Tendeh Lagee’ key word is ‘lagee’ not ‘lagaa, this proves that the union is between the Husband Lord and Soul Bride, Shabad: ‘Es Jug Meh Purakh Ek Heh'”A valid point. Yes, it clearly states that a marriage should be between a man and a woman. However, as Sikhs, we are told to be part of a family as we grow up. There is no stopping me settling down with my future partner and creating a family together, possibly even bring a child into this world. To me, I am being a good faithful Sikh by following what Guru Nanak has told me.
  2. Gurbani to condemn homosexuality
    “please refer to Gurbani to prove how homosexuality is allowed in Sikhi. I will be EXTREMELY surprised if you can prove me wrong”I found this tweet very interesting. Nowhere in the Gurbani does it say that Sikhs are allowed to be homosexual, similarly it also doesn’t condemn it. It’s simply not mentioned. Which obviously means that it’s up for interpretation by each individual. I did push back to @samra_007 asking for a passage which condemned it but one was not found.

 

The message to take away from this post is simple. There are always going to be others out there that may not agree with the way you are leading your life and sometimes there is nothing you can do about it. No human has the power to control what someone else thinks. You can provide all the facts and the relevant information but if that person does not wish to change their view, then you will need to respect that. In fact, these tweets are very welcome and very positive. It allows me to educate them on why I believe homosexuality does belong within Sikhism. A process that maybe they would never have encountered if it wasn’t for this blog.

Sarmad – An openly Gay Saint

There is a great article about a Gay Saint on WaheguruNet. The following paragraph stands out for me:

One openly gay saint is Sarmad, who was a follower of Mian Mir, the Muslim Pir who is believed to have laid the foundation stone of the Harimandir Sahib (Golden Temple), the most important of Sikh gurdwaras, in 1588.

The Golden Temple is the most iconic and important places in the world for a Sikh, the Guru’s obviously knew this, if they believed being Homosexual was incorrect then why would they allow an openly Gay Saint the privilege of laying the foundation? To me, the answer is simple and it goes back to the core beliefs of Sikhism which is everyone is equal. It was of no relevance of Sarmad’s religion, gender or sexual orientation. He was obviously a good person in the Guru’s eyes (he was a Saint after all), so why not allow him to help create the wonderful Golden Temple? This is a great story to recall if there ever are any doubts about homosexuality being acceptable within Sikhism.

I am fully aware and under no illusion that being a Gay Sikh is difficult. So far I have spoken all positives for being a Gay Sikh, but this blog wouldn’t be complete or fair if I didn’t look into the reasons why some people believe that being Homosexual is incorrect. This will be approached in the next few articles.

Everyone is Equal

If I had to summarise Sikhism in one word it would be “Equality”.

Guru Nanak created Sikhism and wanted everyone to be included regardless of age, gender or religion. He was born in the Punjab where the two major religions were Hinduism and Islam. He didn’t like the idea that in Hinduism there was 1) a caste system and 2) a bias towards women. This didn’t sit well with him, he believed that every human has been created by God, therefore everyone is equal to each other, just because you are a male born into a certain caste should not give you an elite status. Besides, different status’ create separation and this was the opposite of what Guru Nanak wanted to achieve. Women were unable to be pure because they menstruate and give birth to children, this was considered dirty. Guru Nanak quite rightly pointed out that these very women give birth to Kings of the land, surely they should be regarded in a better light?

Langar is the word used to describe the food that is served at a Gurdwara, it is always vegetarian. This is because when the religion began, everyone was able to join, Muslims did not eat pork and Hindus did not eat beef, therefore having a vegetarian meal ensured the meal was open to all people regardless of religious beliefs. Langar is always eaten with everyone sitting on the floor, this further emphasises the equality. By eating in this manner ensures that there is no superiority between each other.

A final example on equality within Sikhism comes from the names Singh and Kaur. All men had the surname Singh and all women had the surname Kaur. Guru Nanak believed that God is our mother and father. When a woman gets married to a man, she does not need to take his name, everyone is equal.

It has been proven many times that homosexuality is not a choice, it is something we are born with. Therefore if Sikhism accepts all beings, homosexuality must also be accepted. In my next post I will write about an open gay saint during the beginnings of Sikhism and how he was treated.

Superwoman speaks out for Gay Asians

Came across this video today of Canadian Sikh Vlogger called Superwoman tackling the issue of homosexuality within the Asian community. Whilst she doesn’t go into any religious references and stresses it’s her opinion, she portrays a very positive message mixed with humour.

Why Start this Blog?

To best answer that I must first introduce myself, I am a (semi) out London born gay Sikh man with a turban. After much discussion with my peers it was obvious that I did not know enough about Sikhism and especially it’s view on homosexuality. This blog will outline what I’ve learnt and how it relates to homosexuality. I’ve never been very religious but one could argue the fact that I wear a turban shows that I am somewhat. Sikhism is all about unity, inclusion and equality, so you’d think that homosexuals are accepted right? Well if you know many Sikh circles, the gay subject is taboo and being an out gay Sikh person is heavily criticised.

As with all religions the original message/scriptures are lost culturally. It’s well known that there is a caste system in Sikhism, but if everyone is equal, what’s the point of castes? So many questions, so little answers. I’ll be learning about Sikhism through literature, online debating and questioning elder members of my family to find out what a good Sikh should and shouldn’t do.

As I write this today, I only know of one online resource that tackles this very subject, Sarbat. The site is very good but it’s the ONLY one, to better spread the word that you can be gay and a practising Sikh, I feel there needs to be a bigger online presence. This blog is going to help achieve this.

If you find this site useful, please pass it on to your peers, this blog is for everyone, from curious straight non Sikhs, to homosexual Sikhs. Feel free to comment for improvements or to simply get your voice heard. I will read and reply to everyone.

Thank You