Don't Let Them - Know Love, Sexuality and the South Asian Family

July 14, 2016

The Department of Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies is proud to co-sponsor:

Don't Let Them Know - Love, Sexuality and the South Asian Family

Thursday July 14, 6pm @ SFU's Goldcorp Centre for the Arts

Seeking 25-40, Well-Placed, Animal-Loving, Vegetarian GROOM for my SON (36, 5’11’’) who works with an NGO. Caste no bar (Though IYER preferred), said the ad in Mumbai’s Mid Day newspaper.

Padma Iyer’s personal ad, looking for a spouse for her child, was no different from thousands of others that appear in Indian newspapers every day. The only difference was that her son, Harrish, is gay. What the ad did (despite expressing a preference for a particular caste) was to normalize the lives of LGBTQ+ people in the public imagination, by bringing it closer home to that most normal of South Asian experiences – that of a mother searching for happiness for her child through an arranged marriage.

Being LGBTQ+ and South Asian means dealing with a complex tangle of the personal and the political, one that manifests itself in diasporic communities living in countries like Canada, where same sex marriage has been legal for a decade. Despite some momentous legal milestones, many South Asians still feel unable to come out to their parents and families. Do we need to cultivate and see more representations of South Asian LGBTQ+ people across art forms and in the media? What positive stories exist that offer hope on a little talked about subject? What work needs to be done with communities and families? And how can broader society support this process?

To explore these questions in life and art are three fine writers from Canada, India and the USA – Kolkata based Sandip Roy, whose novel Don’t Let Him Know was recently published to worldwide acclaim, Minal Hajratwala from San Francisco, whose A Brief Guide to Gender in India for Granta went viral on the web and Vivek Shraya, a three-time Lamda Award nominated artist from Toronto. Hosting the dialogue is Romi Chandra Herbert, Co-Executive Director of PeerNet.

This event is part of Indian Summer Festival 2016.