GAYSIANS

In col­lab­o­ra­tion with Gaysians, meet ten trail­blaz­ing fig­ure­heads paving the way for queer Asian rep­re­sen­ta­tion in the main­stream.

Gay Times Magazine - - CULTURE - Pho­tog­ra­phy Gabriel Mokake Fash­ion Paul Scott Coombs Groom­ing Shami­rah Sairally Hair Ty­ron Sweeney Pro­duc­tion As­sis­tant Solomon Warner Words Wil­liam J Con­nolly Lo­ca­tion Rose­wood Ho­tel Lon­don Reeta Loi CEO Gaysians, writer, mu­si­cian & DJ (aka LOIAL)

When Gay Times ap­proached me to help them cu­rate a list of lead­ing Gaysians for the cover, I smiled from ear to ear – then I’m pretty sure I cried. We have a prob­lem with vis­i­bil­ity in our com­mu­nity, which makes it harder for us to ac­cept and cel­e­brate our­selves. What bet­ter way to chal­lenge this than by putting ten beau­ti­ful, suc­cess­ful, out Asian LGBTQ pow­er­houses on the cover.

This cover marks an im­por­tant mo­ment in the life of each in­di­vid­ual and their life­long ded­i­ca­tion to their work whilst be­ing vis­i­ble, queer and Asian hav­ing been recog­nised – thank you Gay Times. But also, it’s a his­toric mo­ment for us as a com­mu­nity. A com­mu­nity that is still so young in its form­ing that per­haps this is what brought out the play­ful­ness that spread across the room at the shoot it­self. Look­ing at each per­son and see­ing a re­flec­tion of your­self, of your in­ner jour­ney and a con­nec­tion that tran­scends life­times.

I write this as we cel­e­brate the scrap­ping of leg­is­la­tion in In­dia that crim­i­nalised ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity; Sec­tion 377, for 154 years. This land­mark rul­ing by In­dia’s Supreme Court on 6 Septem­ber is not to be un­der­es­ti­mated, from a coun­try that will be­come the world’s largest pop­u­la­tion in just a few years’ time and has wres­tled her way back from coloni­sa­tion to be­come a global player once more. This move sends a sig­nal to coun­tries all over the world with sim­i­lar leg­is­la­tion, to do the right thing in the safe­guard­ing of its peo­ple. That this is what progress looks like. That I can feel proud to be In­dian.

The se­lec­tion of faces you see on this cover al­lude to the di­ver­sity held within the world’s largest con­ti­nent, but also in each of their lives and sto­ries which you’ll read more about in this is­sue. But first, let me tell you a lit­tle about them.

Lord Wa­heed Alli is the first mem­ber of the House of Lords to pub­licly come out as gay, which he did whilst suc­cess­fully lead­ing the re­peal of Sec­tion 28 and, is one of very few out gay Mus­lim politi­cians in the world. He is also an ex­tremely suc­cess­ful en­tre­pre­neur lead­ing or­gan­i­sa­tions in­clud­ing Sil­ver­gate Me­dia, Koovs and pre­vi­ously Planet 24 and En­de­mol.

Rena Bran­nan is a bril­liant play­wright – check out Shut­ters her in­ter­sec­tional play about les­bians and bi­sex­ual women set in LA and Lon­don over twenty years – a Korean Amer­i­can les­bian and Film Editor for DIVA mag­a­zine. Rena is also known for her mar­riage to Bri­tish ac­tress So­phie Ward. Their love is an in­spi­ra­tion to me and many other peo­ple that see it as ev­i­dence that ‘love con­quers all’. We all want a love like theirs.

Gok Wan is a name we all know and love, orig­i­nally through his work in fash­ion. He in­spired a gen­er­a­tion of women to feel con­fi­dent in their bod­ies with Chan­nel 4 series How to Look Good Naked. Gok has spo­ken in his au­to­bi­og­ra­phy about his own jour­ney with body weight and de­pres­sion, con­stantly be­ing hon­est and open and help­ing oth­ers in ev­ery way he can. He con­tin­ues to in­spire and sur­prise us with his cooking show and most re­cently his move into DJing.

Luke Pa­garani is CEO of Natco Foods. Yes, they pro­duce chick­peas, lentils and turmeric and the like. His grand­fa­ther started the com­pany, how­ever, un­der Luke’s lead­er­ship the busi­ness now con­trib­utes 100% of its prof­its to women’s and LGBTQ char­i­ties in In­dia. Along with his sib­lings, he set up the Hu­man Ca­pa­bil­ity Foun­da­tion that cur­rently sup­ports 30 char­i­ties in In­dia at grass­roots level, cre­at­ing gen­uine im­prove­ments to the lives of peo­ple that need it most.

Dr Ranj Singh is the res­i­dent doc­tor on This Morn­ing and has most re­cently been strut­ting his stuff on Strictly Come Danc­ing. De­spite be­ing outed, this hasn’t stopped him be­com­ing one of the na­tion’s sweet­hearts and a glow­ing face of Gaysian Bri­tan­nia.

Asifa La­hore be­came known as the Bri­tain’s First Out Mus­lim Drag Queen, proudly per­form­ing all over the coun­try. Now a trans woman, she em­bod­ies the love and kind­ness of some­one that has faced the chal­lenges of mul­ti­ple in­ter­sec­tions head on and kept on grow­ing, smil­ing and shin­ing.

Jonathan Phang is a chef and news­reader at Ra­dio DIVA and had a show on Food Net­work UK. How­ever, be­fore that he was a judge on Bri­tain’s Next Top Model and be­fore that, he was the agent to Naomi Camp­bell, Jerry Hall, Tyra Banks and Liv Tyler. Not even mak­ing this up.

Suki Sandhu is a re­cruit­ment spe­cial­ist and the brain­child be­hind IN­volve and its brands, in­clud­ing OUT­stand­ing, a mem­ber­ship-based LGBTQ or­gan­i­sa­tion which pub­lishes an an­nual role mod­els list. He’s led the charge to help make work­places more in­clu­sive in their hir­ing and helped many more peo­ple feel that they can be out at work.

Kr­ishna Omkar is a highly suc­cess­ful lawyer and con­trib­uted to the suc­cess­ful re­peal of In­dia’s Sec­tion 377 leg­is­la­tion. He most re­cently launched Openly News, the news ser­vice will serve a global au­di­ence look­ing for au­thor­i­ta­tive, im­par­tial and trust­wor­thy news re­port­ing on the many is­sues af­fect­ing les­bian, gay, bi­sex­ual, and trans­gen­der peo­ple in the world.

En­joy this spe­cial Gaysians is­sue of Gay Times. You’re not alone, you’re in fan­tas­tic com­pany.

Love, Reeta.

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