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Being a South-Asian (desi) and also an LGBTQ+ teenager is a double whammy of being a minority population in the US. Where can they go for help?
It’s pride month, but not everybody can openly celebrate their identity. In South Asian cultures, children are often reliant on or stay with their parents well into their twenties.
For LGBTQ+ teens and young adults whose close and extended families may not be supportive of their sexual orientation or gender identity, or people that do not feel comfortable coming out to their families, this can be a trying time where they do not receive the recognition they deserve.
Being both South-Asian and LGBTQ+ poses its own unique set of challenges.
Being in a family which is not supportive or indifferent towards a person’s identity can cause mental health challenges, which go on to impact people’s careers and relationships with friends and family.
Because South-Asians and the LGBTQ+ community are already minorities, being both means that a person is in a very marginalized group who may not be fully understood by those around them. This group is rarely seen in media, and rarely mentioned elsewhere.
This is also a taboo subject in many South Asian homes and therefore can cause much damage.
Because of this disconnect, South Asian communities around the United States have created organizations and helplines to give support to those who do not have it. These volunteers and organizations come from the same background as these teens and young adults, and may be able to provide a more understanding and streamlined perspective towards those who need support than generalized organizations and helplines.
Here is a list of LGBTQ+ South Asian affinity groups spanning the United States.
(Branches in Michigan, San Francisco, and Seattle).
Trikone is a non-profit organization geared towards helping LGBTQ+ and South Asian populations based in the Bay Area. They define South Asian as originating from the following countries: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Myanmar (Burma), Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Tibet.
They work to bring together the South Asian – LGBTQ community and help promote personal identities as both LGBTQ and South Asian. They work to bring about more awareness and visibility to the LGBTQ+ community. They work to empower the South Asian and LGBTQ+ communities through community events, conferences, film festivals, and pride events.
Though they are focused mainly on the South Asian- LGBTQ community, they work to reduce all forms of discrimination against gender identity, race, sexual orientation, religion, and more. They also have a Women of Trikone group and a Parents of Trikone group, branches within the organization.
Trikone also has a resource page which is helpful for immigrants, South Asians, and the LGBTQ+ community. This page provides resources for people looking for immigration lawyers, doctors, and more. They also have a page for LGBTQ+ students looking for colleges that are LGBTQ+ friendly.
Trikone’s website here.
For People All Over the US (and around the world as well)
DeQH is Trikone’s helpline branch based in the United States for South Asian and LGBTQ+ people.
DeQH offers advice and support to South Asian LGBTQ+, their friends, and their families. This helpline is led by trained South-Asian and LGBTQ+ volunteers. They work to answer calls about coming out, gender identity, dealing with family and faith, finding community, finding a good doctor or therapist, advice, or just to listen. DeQH has three core values which shape their calls.
The first is that they are caller-centered. This means that the caller, not the DeQH volunteer, will be leading the call. The volunteer is simply there to answer questions and share their input, but the call is lead entirely by the caller.
Their second is that they are non-judgmental. The volunteers are trained to simply understand the caller’s situation and will never judge or shame the caller in any way. This creates a safer space where instead of shaming any practices or ideas the caller has; the volunteer will give healthier alternatives.
The third is that they respect the identities of the caller. All callers will be asked their pronouns and how they choose to identify, to create a safe space for the caller. The organization respects the caller entirely, not discriminating based on socio-economic class, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, or nationality. The volunteers are trained to not make assumptions about the caller.
DeQH operates on Thursday and Sunday evenings (EST 8-10pm, PST 5-7pm).
DeQH website here. (the website also has an online contact form to reach out to the volunteers).
Khush Texas is a small Texas organization for South–Asian and LGBTQ identifying people. Khush meaning ecstatic pleasure in Urdu.
They define South-Asian identity as those from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Sri Lanka. Khush Texas is only for these people and their partners. Their goal is to provide a safe affinity space for LGBTQ+ South Asians. Khush Texas has active branches in Houston, Dallas, and Austin. They currently have 238 members.
Khush is a social support network, meaning that most communication happens over social media. Membership is very restrictive, only for South Asian LGBTQ+ people living in Texas. Social events are announced over the member Facebook page, which needs to be requested to join.
Facebook page here.
Email: [email protected]
Phone: (469) 454-8741
Khush Texas website here.
(New York City and Philadelphia)
SALGA (South Asian Lesbian and Gay association) is a South-Asian, LGBTQ+ support group based in both NYC and Philly. The group is confidential, and is a safe affinity space for those who identify as South Asian and LGBTQ+.
It is a support group facilitated by trained volunteers. However, these individuals are not professionals, and are not trained to give any health or medical advice. SALGA membership requires approval. They try to reduce discrimination on the basis of race, gender, class, sexual orientation, and more throughout NYC and Philly.
The group meets once a month for two hours creating a friendly space for people to interact and get to know one another, a way to network with their peers and know people who are struggling in the same ways that they are. All the members are volunteers, and there is no paid staff. It is quite easy to volunteer with SALGA and become a larger part of the group.
SALGA NYC Website here.
SALGA Philly Website here.
Led by activist Priya Arora, Queering Desi is a podcast which is aimed towards LGBTQ+ South Asian populations.
The podcast invites guests to share stories about being South Asian and LGBTQ+, a marginalized group even amongst the minorities of society. Arora focuses on South Asian culture and how it may impact the LGBTQ+ community and those who remain in the closet.
The podcast is available on Spotify and iTunes. The show is meant to be a source to think about, no matter where the listener is on their journey in coming out. The podcast also has a mailing list filled with updates. They have an Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.
Queering Desi website here.
Email: – [email protected]
Image source: here.
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