When you’re gay, you’re different. When you’re gay and South Asian, you’re different – in two groups: your own culture and the gay community.
Because of that, Chicago’s South Asian lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgenders and queers are coming out to create their own social space with a Bollywood disco-themed costume party on Thursday.
“A lot of the bars and club spaces are very white,” said Kareem Khubchandani, a Caribbean-Indian graduate student at Northwestern University. “It’s a chance for brown people to come together," he said.
Khubchandani, the coordinator of the event, said that South Asian LGBTQs have difficulty finding social events.
The party is named "Jai Ho," after the theme song of the movie Slumdog Millionaire. "Jai Ho" means "may victory be yours" in Hindi and it indicates a sort of victory for the community. Organizers say it will provide a much-needed social outlet.The party will be hosted by Trikone Chicago, a networking group for self-identified lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transsexuals and queers who are of South Asian descent. The group was founded in 1998 and has a membership of nearly 200.
One of Trikone Chicago’s co-founders, who asked to remain anonymous, said that South Asian LGBTQs need venues to gather with members of their ethnic background. He said that white LGBTQs do not understand the experience of South Asians and the restrictions involved in the culture.
“Even though the South Asian community has come up and become more modern, there are still some things you can’t do,” he said. Like many members, the 21-year-old has not told his parents about his sexual orientation.
Jessica DeKuiper, a doctoral student at the University of Wisconsin, has been researching this minority group. "There is a greater stigma about being gay in the South Asian community," she said.To address those stigmas, several local groups have formed, along with Trikone Chicago. Invisible to Invincible -- which goes by i2i -- is a community-based organization for LGBTQ Asians and Pacific Islanders. Khuli Zaban is an organization of South Asian and West Asian lesbians. Its Web site says that it is for women who love women.
Since 1984, Asians and Friends Chicago has provided support for Chicago’s gay Asians. Trikone Chicago will host the party every three months with a new theme.
Although Khubchandani said he did not want to disclose the details of his costume for tomorrow, he did say that there will be “lots of glitter and sequins.”