Tag: Gay

Part 2: Kanwar’s (Sikh Knowledge) coming out story

21Jan

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Part 1: Kanwar (Sikh Knowledge) talks about his self mutilation and suicidal tendencies

I could do a mini-series of interviews with Kanwar (Sikh Knowledge) he just has so many ideas and well rounded thoughts. He’s one of those artists, where you can give him any topic, he will have something to say and there’s a profound message behind his thoughts. For the past two days, I’ve had some of his tracks on replay and I feel the way he uses particular words could best describe the darker days of his childhood. Where his innocence was robbed from him at a very young age, his coming out and coming to terms with his sexuality. I’m very grateful he took the time to tell a complete stranger, a journalist, for that matter, his story. If you didn’t know much about Sikh Knowledge before this interview, you’ll walk away knowing the true definition of a warrior –  Kanwar Anit Singh Saini

Petz: I’m very impressed how you stepped out on stage and mention how you were proud, gay Sikh man at Non Stop Bhangra (Monthly Bhangra party in San Francisco, California) did people approach you after your set?

Kanwar: Surprisingly no. I was hanging out after the performance, I saw a few people pointing and whispering around me. A few people came up just to say, what’s up! One dude addressed it, but he was more connected to me by the fact he was from Montreal. No one really seemed to care. I felt it was necessary to mention it because most of the shows, I do are festivals and rallies with a political tinge to it. And this was a Non Stop Bhangra show, something I’ve never done before! I felt the need to mention it, although some of my music is danceable, there’s a message behind it. It sort of just came out to the audience. I just think everyone wanted to dance and to have a good time.

Petz: As a child, when did you start feeling different from the other children?

Kanwar: Right off the bat! I was somewhat of a “bubble boy” which means I always had some sort of allergy from being away from home too long, I was always creative, I was attached to my sisters, I was so different in that respect. Intellectually, I always did things differently compared to the other kids. I was always beat boxing on my way to school. In terms of my sexuality, on a certain level I always knew, but like I said, the sexual abuse confused things for me. As soon as we hit 8, 9, 10, we have a Meta awareness of ourselves, maybe even earlier then that. When the abuse started, my Meta awareness of myself, I explained these feelings being a result of the abuse, when later in life I realized it wasn’t a result of being sexually abused at all. I was confused with the reasons why I felt this way, but indelibly, found out there’s no reasons why, that’s just the way it is. It took my own self-awareness to separate the abuse from who I am. I was introduced to sex way too early, let’s just put it that way.

Petz: Do you get annoyed when people tie sexual abuse to homosexuality?

Kanwar: Oh totally! I’m not going to lie; my family did that when I first came out. They did out of fear, my sister approached me a couple of times and tried to make me realize it was because of the abuse. I realized they were just saying that because they needed a reason because they’re not me, so they just didn’t understand it. After awhile, they just accepted it for what it was. They saw beyond the sexual abuse. It really aggravates me when people assume you’re gay because you were abused. Sexual abuse itself is a monster, especially when it’s an old person and young person. I remember reading statistically, a couple of years back, how attention is attention, and a child who might have homosexual inclination might give off these susceptible signals to predators. The numbers of those being sexually abuse, who are gay, are just higher because of those reasons, not because of the abuse itself. Of course that’s just a statistic and even statistics can be way off. From me, it kind of resonates, like I said I was a bubble boy and very sensitive. I think when my abuse started, the root of it was basically attention, I loved the fact attention was being showered on me. Abuse isn’t always physically pain, a lot of it is being too young to know that the pleasure you’re feeling is completely fucking you up. That was completely inappropriate and not meant for me to experienced or showered on me in any way, shape or form. It really disturbs me when people compound my sexuality to the sexual abuse. Or abusers and homosexuality, abusers exist in many areas; there are heterosexual abusers as well, so it’s very different. If someone finds out your gay, they may never want to leave their kid with you again. It makes it difficult to adopt a child. It aggravates me for sure.

Petz: What happen to your abuser?

Kanwar: It’s fucked up, nothing happen. I blew the whistle on the abuse that I was experiencing and perpetuating. I’ll be honest about that; I was kid and abusing others as well. At some point, at the age of 16 or 17, I sat my whole family down and I told them everything. I blew the whistle on everything. My immediate family knows who the abuser is, my father knows who the abuser is and I know who the abuser is. The abuser knows who the abuser is and he knows that others know too. What’s funny is that, my abuser has never come to me to try to seek forgiveness. I haven’t made my peace with that person, but I made my peace with who I am. And who I am in relation to this abuse, especially it being known to my family. That’s huge and that’s really enough for me. This person, it’s funny, our parents generation has a weird way dealing with these issues, which we might consider very strange. It’s not that they don’t choose to talk about these things, but in fact for them breaking relations off with somebody is a very bad thing. Especially if the reason is something like this, they might not actually understand. In this instance, my abuser was my dad’s nephew. For my dad to break off the connection with that family, my dad just probably doesn’t understand, how he can do that and doesn’t know what to say. Which is sad, it’s not something I would do with my kid, but we have to understand they come from a different time and place. Just look at Monsoon Wedding, I would love it, if that was my life. If my father figure protected me in that way, that’s just not reality for a lot of people, it wasn’t a reality for me. I’m not living a fairy tale either, but thing is I can be loud about it, piss people off in the process and that’s fantastic to me.

Petz: When you were a kid, did you try to date girls just to fit in?

Kanwar: (laughs) I did, I had a girlfriend in grade 2. As I got older, I remember I tried to be intimate once or twice, not even just to fit in, but more just to prove to myself that I wasn’t gay. This was before shit hit the fan, I was really young, but I never tried to date girls just to fit in. I think I asked somebody out once, it lasted a night. (laughs). That was the end of that.

Petz: As you mention before, it is a long and difficult road out for a lot of folks out there in the Desi community to come to terms with their sexuality. And how you came out, it’s definitely different from other coming stories, because you blew the whistle on the abuse you endured as a child. From that point to your family developing a sense of acceptance to who you are, what happen in between? What made them come to terms with your sexuality?

Kanwar: I don’t think it’s acceptance for some people, I think if you are going to be a family member to Kanwar Anit Singh Saini, you are just going to have to deal with the fact I’m not going to care what you say. I’m lucky my family stuck around, I basically said, fuck you, I’m going to be who I want to be. Let’s just say my dad, this isn’t the ideal situation for his son. If you have a kid, think about it logically, you want your kid to succeed in “life” and you want your kid to have every opportunity to succeed. The reality is that includes not being gay, that’s a minority, if you are rallying for the maximum success for your off spring, obviously you are going to opt for them to be normative. So in terms for accepting, I think for somebody like my dad, he even says it himself, as long as my education is locked down then he just doesn’t care. I don’t think I could use the word acceptance with him. He tolerates who I am. For my sisters, on the other hand, who grew up in the western world, who know these terms, they accepted me. It’s a non-issue with them. My nieces are down with me, they are super proud of me. One of my nieces told me I was cooler because of who I am. (laughs) If I can take a handful of Punjabi kids and desensitize from this hetero normative macho crap that goes on in modern, pop, bhangra, movies and shit then I win. Between that point and now, my sisters are great, my dad is ok with it, but he comes from a different time and place. I can’t really blame him for that.

Petz: There are some people out there, in the Sikh community, who are still struggling coming to terms with their sexuality. They feel like they can’t be gay, lesbian, bi-sexual or transgender, because it makes them a “bad” Sikh. What are some ways you overcame your guilt or is that still a work in progress?

Kanwar: I guess a few words on Sikhism, my name is Sikh Knowledge as an artist, and I got this name from a Black Jewish friend of mine. I didn’t give myself this name, because I was Sikh; my black Jewish friend had a double entendre and just gave me this name years ago. So people often approach me and think I know a lot about Sikhism. I do know a thing or two, this is the number one argument, and people say it’s against Sikhism because they assume it to be hypersexual. From what I understand, within the frameworks of Sikhi, to move away from worldly attachments, which includes sexuality is basically the goal in life. It’s not the sexual preference, it’s sexuality in general, and that people should be moving away from – under that framework.  Even heterosexuals are anti-Sikhi, the difference is preference and it’s not the amount of desire one has for the act. In terms of Sikhi, I just say its sexuality; people should be moving away from, if that’s your argument. Another argument that often comes up – it’s unnatural. To love another human being, is that unnatural? I don’t think so. We have to look into these arguments, when someone says it’s unnatural, what they are referring to is anal sex. They are referring penetrating in the asshole. What you have to realize, this isn’t the end all and be all of what it means to be gay. The goal isn’t anal sex. That’s very wrong, because people have sexual preferences, it doesn’t mean they all fall into this “anal sex” category. There are many gay people out there, who don’t have penetrating sex; they just need the companionship of the same sex. What about lesbians who don’t have penises to penetrate each other, the underline assumption – gay people are just running around looking to penetrate something else or be penetrated. Which is so stupid, foolish and it’s a big misconception. It’s so King James, because King James wrote the bible and that shit went all over the world, and then everyone wrote laws against homosexual at some point in history. Sikhism was founded on inclusive principals. So when some people use it to exclude anybody, not even gay people, just anybody – I resent the hell out of that. Right then and there, they are being preachy. I find that to be the antisepsis of the faith.

Petz: Do you think the younger Punjabi community lacks knowledge and acceptance towards the LGBT Punjabis out there?

Kanwar: Hell yeah! I told you Punjabi Sikh culture is hetero normative and too macho for it’s own good. If I had a function in arts, other than music, it would be desensitizing these idiots to what it means to be a human being. Which is basically what I am. Are they ignorant to it? Yessssss! Sooooo ignorant to it. Think about it, when do we often get exposed to different types of people? University. What happens in University? People group themselves into cliques; there will be a Punjabi clique, a Hindu clique, and a Gujarati clique – people stick to their own cliques. It’s familiar; it’s a homely feeling, it’s funny HA HA. What ends up happening to their detriment, they become less cultured as people. This isn’t an absolute truth, even in the Diaspora, people can grow up not ignorant and just knowing their own, not experiencing the world for what it is. They need to come to terms with this fact that gay people come from this world. 10% of people in this world are gay, I don’t care what culture you’re from, I don’t care what President Ahmadinejad says, how gay people don’t exist in Iran, of course there’s gay people in Iran. Trust me, they do exist. It’s foolish.

Petz: What would you like to do to bring awareness to the community?

Kanwar: Be me, just like every one else should be themselves.  I will just be me, if that can bring awareness, I’m not one to go wave my flag in anyone’s face. I don’t want someone to wave their flag in my face. I will just be there, be me and do the stuff I’m supposed to do. I love producing, I love making music, I love my other career – I love all these things. Just by being me, if I can desensitize these people – fantastic! I’m not at the point yet, where I will march anywhere and infringe or push it in people’s faces. That’s up to them to accept me, one day I might be treating them in the hospital or their kid in the hospital – who will have the last laugh? I’m still a human being, people just need to accept for what is what.

Petz: I love your music, especially the track you did with Humble the Poet, Singh with Me. How will you take your sexuality and compose it into a rhyme?

Kanwar: I talk to Humble about this often, about how I can incorporate this part of myself into lyrics, without being so overt about it. If I had an album, I would probably address in a song or two. When your rhyming, basically hip-hop tracks aren’t about anything at all. Humble the Poet, is one of the emcees I know who can stay on topic; he can have a lot of rhymes on one topic. If I were to incorporate it, I would incorporate it, the way I corporate my views on Israel/Palestine. In other songs, where I just rhyme for the sake of rhyming, I can still incorporate my views in on metaphor. In our song “Slick Slick” I say something like, spark the night, with no reason like Israel. Right then, I’m bashing Israel for whatever my beliefs are, but I just said it in a simply assembly or rhyme. I do actually have a rhyme on Humble the Poet’s last album, on this song “Middle Ring Pinky” I end up saying something like, Knowledge the boggy, iconoclastically breaking fag perception. I’ll incorporate it in my rhymes, like I’m a regular hetero emcee.

Petz: This has been a wonderful interview; I believe people out there will feel truly inspired by your story. We are truly blessed to have you open up the way you did. I’m truly blown away by you. Thank you once again Kanwar.

Kanwar: Don’t mention it. It was great, thank you for letting me speak my mind.

Kanwar (Sikh Knowledge) talks about his self-mutilation and suicidal tendencies

20Jan

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This has to be one of the most candid interviews I’ve ever done. Kanwar Anit Singh Saini also known as Sikh Knowledge, underground producer and artist, let me into his world where he spoke openly about being gay, his suicidal/self-mutilation tendencies and sexual abuse. As much as some choose to ignore these important issues that plague our community behind close doors, it’s important we talk about sexual abuse especially. I would like to thank Kanwar for speaking openly about these issues, let’s all continue to talk about them and not turn a blind eye on these matters.

Petz: How has suicide affected your life?

Kanwar: I think suicide plays a role in a lot of gay people’s lives, especially through the coming out process. I know a lot of gay people who have contemplated it, when they were coming out, especially at younger ages. The first generation as well, who are from North America, but whose families are immigrants. It’s difficult because it’s a compromise, everything you have, which is essentially your family. The first generations aren’t as established, as the North American general heritage counterparts. It’s impacted my life only for the better; obviously I’m still here today. I did contemplate the thought of suicide; I did have to seek professional help when I was younger, for these thoughts and tendencies. I did exhibit self-mutilated behavior at one point; I would burn my hand. Unfortunately suicide amongst young gay people is very high, especially among minorities. It impacted me for the better because I went the opposite direction, I went ultra positive with myself. I gave myself the emotional resources I needed to succeed in whatever I wanted to do.

Petz: How old were when you had the suicidal thoughts?

Kanwar: 18. It lasted 18 to 20. And 20, I formally got help; I took a pro-active role in my own coming out and living life.

Petz: When you came out, did anyone directly or indirectly tell you “Oh you should kill yourself!” “You are better off dead!” “You’re worthless!” “How can you call yourself a Sikh, when you’re gay?”

Kanwar: No, no one really said that, I’m lucky; I have three amazing older sisters that protect me from a lot of negative attitudes. If anyone said that, I didn’t hear it.

Petz: What took place, when you finally reached out and got help?

Kanwar: It was scary; my case wasn’t as severe as a lot of people. I was still a relatively stable person; I had some sort of control over myself. I felt humiliated and embarrassed, it’s a different type of humiliation; it’s a humiliation at your own hand. Until you realize that it’s necessary, and there’s no need to be humiliated – it’s just a reality. You tend to grow proud of what you’ve conquered. It helps you find a way to get past it, I took a very pro-active role in my life, and I attended a sexual assault group for men. The reason why I attended a sexual assault group for men was because a lot of my suicidal thoughts stemmed from the sexual abuse I endured. A lot of this stuff, I want to address through music, you’ll hear it. I was sexually abused as a child for many years, during that time I also participated in sexual abuse and it was all within the family. I find this happens a lot within the community, I would say within the Punjabi community, first generation and so forth. There’s a lot of confusion to what sexual abuse is, what pederasty is – an older and younger person type of relationship. Some people think sexual abuse and pederasty are the same thing, but I feel there’s fine lines between the two. I was a part of the latter – the sexual abuse. This all bubbled up inside me, in my late teens and early 20s. The humiliation and embarrassment came from that aspect, I just had to look at it in the face and deal with it.

(Petz) It’s rare for me to become speechless during an interview, normally I have my questions lined up, I have them memorized and I’m ready to have them answered. But after what he shared with me, a flood of emotions took over; I was truly in awed by Kanwar’s honesty and bravery. Sexual abuse for example tends to get swept under the carpet. Kanwar broke the silence, not just for himself, but for others who are going through the same suffering he went through as a child.

After I thanked him, Kanwar continues…

Kanwar: It’s not a problem, I don’t care whose pointing fingers at me, and I have the greatest family in the world. My sisters are truly amazing. The embarrassment in the community, none of that shit matters to me. Or what people are going to say about my family, I lost my mom when I was 16. I know she’s looking down at me, she knows I’m trying to help other people. There’s no sense in communal embarrassment or whatever people might fear. If I can be a voice in this community or any community for that matter, just by being me as an artist and what I’ve been through – so be it. I will take that bullet, I’m 29 now, I’ll do it and I’ll be loud about this. These are pervasive problems that no one addresses.

Petz: When you look at your mutilation scars, what comes to your mind?

Kanwar: My scars haven’t healed in fact they remain on my hand. I have areas of thin skin on my hand, which often flares up in eczema because of the burnt tissue. Even my two sisters don’t even know about this, I used to burn my hand with hot water. The group I attended when I was younger, I used to tell them the pain made me feel alive because I was so disconnected from myself. I created this reality for myself, to help myself cope with a lot of the pain inside. The pain on the outside of my body would help unify the pain within and it felt great. When I look at the patches of thin skin, it’s a constant reminder to just take care of myself. I need to take care of myself physically and emotionally. If I don’t take care of myself physically, these scars are just going to flare up again. If I don’t take care of myself emotionally, that was the root the cause; it’s a case of metaphysics becoming physics. I don’t doubt when my soul is trying to tell me something, I try to listen to it because I have scars on my hands. At one point of my life, I created a reality for myself; I was that strong in my mind – totally false. I just need to stay grounded and rooted. After what I’ve been through, I’ve taken better care of myself.

Petz: For the people who are thinking about killing themselves, what would you like to say to them?

Kanwar: It’s not fair for us to say it gets better. When I had these thoughts and feelings, you are literally physically, chemically in your brain; a different person. At this point, whatever you are going through, someone has it a lot worse. Imagine your threshold and imagine it way beyond what you think it is right now. You can get past whatever it is; I would encourage the readers to seek professional help too. It’s ok to talk to someone and to be in a professional setting with a group of people who are going through similar thoughts and tendencies. It doesn’t make you any less of a person; it will help pull yourself back from committing suicide.

Part 2: Kanwar talks about being gay, coming out and the abuse he went through as a child.

Homophobia is gross, not the picture

4Dec

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Whether this picture was altered, a film still or a causal friendly kiss; I should take a stance and say there’s nothing wrong with it. But the way it was posted on facebook sends a clear message of homophobia. This year alone, several teens/young adults have committed suicide due to being outed/teased for their sexuality. Look at Karan Johar, about 80% of the time, interviewers have to ask him about his sexuality. It’s amazing he hasn’t cracked under pressure. I love it when he mocks the interviewer right back. Good for you Karan! Frankly it doesn’t bother me if he is gay or not, it doesn’t change the fact that he’s the most sought out producer/director in Bollywood. The irony is the people who do the gay bashing, you are still spending your money to go see his films – hypocrites. In case you don’t know what a hypocrite is, here’s the definition. (UPDATE BELOW WHERE THIS ORIGINATED FROM)

Comments for the pic to far…but for the folks who didn’t post the homophobic remarks. Thank you.

Genious Zain che cheeee ce babay yyyyyyyyy haha

Nazish Suroor babby pagloooooooooooooooooooo ye kya lagaaa diyaaaaaaaaaaaa oye

Babby Zoozoo SHARUKH KHAN KI KARTUTE… DEKH SALA BAHAR JAKE MU KALA KAR RAHA HAI TV SHOWS ME …. HUH …!!! HUMNE TO AJ TAK KJO AUR MM KO ___ SAMJHA THA BUT SHARUKH BHI NOOOOOOOOO :(( =((

Nazish Suroor ahahahaha

Ayesha Khan baby :O ol hein

Ayesha Khan mm kon he 😕 kjo toh thik he par who is mm

Babby Zoozoo MANISH MALHOTRA

Ayesha Khan BABY :))

Genious Zain abe baby tm itna khaf ho rahi ho srk pe shadi tu nahi karni na oss sa goli mar s r k ..mje jese bache pe be kabi taras kha liya karo :)):)) kitna akela hu :)):)):)) hah

Armaan Got Sumone oh no shahrukh bhi john abhishe ki tarah…. yaakkkk…

Fajar Ali hahahaaa…. so funny …. :)

Arhaan Khan  Thnks frds i m happy ull enjoyed.!!!!

Prince Aabir sala gay. salman is the man

Armaan Got Sumone yah salman is the man baki to salay homo sexualhote ja rahe hn… chee

**Update**

So this picture is actually unreleased footage from My Name is Khan, but what even with Section 377 outlawed in India, these host have no idea the type of homophobic undertone they are sending to the audience. I’m curious to see if there is more to this kiss or was it just SRK’s character in the film being spontaneous.

Queer Desis host a wedding celebration at India’s Day Parade!

1Aug

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Every year, here in the Bay Area, the FIA host the annual India Independence Day Mela & Parade. They have always welcome Trikone, that serves the South Asian Queer community in the San Francisco Bay Area & beyond. Their booth at the melas has always be so much fun and full of color. This year…Trikone plans to bring awareness and educate how the Defense Of Marriage Act, discriminates against the queer community and how we all deserve the right to get married.

Trikone will hold a MOCK wedding ceremony between two men and two women, the crowd at the mela will be encourage to participate and join in the festivities!!!

Be sure you come to the mela and stop by the Trikone Booth! It will be held Aug 14th and 15th in Fremont CA.

If you are interested in volunteering please email harsha[@]trikone.org

A) Booth Setup:
We need help with the booth setup. We will decorate the booth in traditional “mandap” style, with lots of festive fabric and flowers.
On the day of the event, we need atleast 4 volunteers to help us with the setup and bring down of the booth.
The setup will be done on Saturday Aug 14th and bring down on Sunday, Aug 15th.
The entire booth setup should not take more than 2 hours.
B) Fabric for the booth:
If you have traditional South Asian fabric/sarees that you can lend us please let us know.
If you are interested in helping us with the decorations/ideas for setting up the booth write me an email.
Even if you cannot physically be present, we are always looking out for fresh ideas from the community.
C) Make flower garlands:
We need volunteers who can make flower garlands out of loose flowers.
This can be done on the day of the event and should not take more than an hour.
D) Invitation card write up/design:
We will be handing out “Invitation cards” to passersby and inviting them to join us in the celebration.
If you are interested in designing the layout of the card, write-up or co-ordinate with the print out, please let us know.
Trikone will reimburse you for the print out.
Multiple volunteers can collectively accomplish this task
E) Mock Couple:
We need:
2 men to be the mock couple of Saturday
2 women to be the mock couple on Sunday.
Must be willing to wear traditional Indian attire.
Please write to us if you are interested in being the mock couple.

F) Wedding games co-ordinator:
In this position, you will be responsible to come with short (5 min) wedding related games that will engage the visitor with the wedding ceremony.
G) Wedding photographer:
As the wedding photographer, you would be taking pictures of visitors with the mock couple (if requested).
H) Wedding Guests:
As part of the wedding contingent, we need members of our community in festive apparel to participate and make our booth approachable and open.
We need you to send out positive vibes :)
I) Music co-ordinator:
Compile Bollywood Wedding songs (anywhere between 20-50) that could be played throughout the day!
J) Advocacy member:
As visitors approach our booth and we engage them with all the fun filled activities, we also want to spend a moment with them to let them know what Trikone is and how they can be an ally.

National Coming Out Day — October 11th 2009

8Oct

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Imagine living as someone you’re not… Obliging by others, but not being true to yourself and who you really are. Some people gasp at the thought of LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) folks within the Desi community. It’s not a phenomenon or a rarity – it’s for real. We do exist – we are your mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins & in-laws… you get the point :) In 2009, the Delhi highcourts overthrew Section 377, a penal code not written by the Indian government, but by British imperial lawmakers. Section 377, made it illegal for gays to co-exist with others (it was really a law prohibiting sodomy — but the government used it to blackmail the LGBT community)

National Coming Out Day, doesn’t mean you HAVE to come out, it’s simply a way of saying “It’s ok… to be who you are, if you’re ready — you will have a community to support you…” Trikone has numerous Desi LGBT members – they are a group of people where you can feel safe to be yourself. They put out a quarterly magazine (filled with wonderful articles all in color) they have monthly outings, gatherings and social events. It’s an umbrella for the Desi LGBT community — however everyone is welcome to join (friends, allies, volunteers, supporters) they have strong ties to P-FLAG (Parents, Families, & Friends of Lesbians and Gays) so if you’re a parent, feel free to reach out to Trikone

Urban Desi Radio is proud to be an ally of Trikone and last night we interviewed one of Trikone’s outreach members Poonam was interviewed by UDR. Check out the interview!

www.trikone.org