Lord Wa­heed Alli En­tre­pre­neur and ac­tivist

Gay Times Magazine - - CULTURE -

How did you come to be in the pub­lic spot­light?

I have al­ways been ac­tive in pol­i­tics but never thought I would be in front­line pol­i­tics. It has never ap­pealed to me. I don’t like pub­lic speak­ing and hate be­ing in the spot­light. I have al­ways been much bet­ter be­hind the scenes. When I went into the House of Lords, I didn’t re­alise that I would be the first openly gay mem­ber of The Lords. It was that fact that de­ter­mined that I would make gay rights the cen­tre of my work in The Lords. It has been a priv­i­lege to have done so and to see the change in The Lords over the last 20 years. An in­sti­tu­tion that thought be­ing gay was a sick­ness to a mod­ern pos­i­tive place. A sec­ond cham­ber that forged the path for gay mar­riage (led by some ex­cep­tional women). I’m in­cred­i­bly proud to be a mem­ber of their Lord­ships house.

Do we cur­rently see fair and ac­cu­rate rep­re­sen­ta­tion for the queer Asian com­mu­nity in the UK?

We don’t see a fair rep­re­sen­ta­tion of the Asian com­mu­nity gen­er­ally so it’s un­sur­pris­ingly that we don’t see the same for queer Asians. It’s why I am so pleased that Gay Times are do­ing this – it’s the rea­son that I wanted to par­tic­i­pate. It’s im­por­tant that we show the range and depth of the com­mu­nity. It’s im­por­tant that those who are com­ing to terms with their sex­ual iden­tity can see that the world is di­verse and there are pos­i­tive role mod­els. There are not enough of us and over the next few years I hope our num­bers will grow.

Have you ever faced dis­crim­i­na­tion or ho­mo­pho­bia within your in­dus­try?

We have all faced dis­crim­i­na­tion in our lives and in our in­dus­try, you only need to look at the eth­nic and gen­der makeup of man­age­ment and the board­rooms to see that. I’m lucky be­cause I have been su­per suc­cess­ful and there­fore can point to the me­dia or­ga­ni­za­tion and say with­out any self in­ter­est your board­rooms and man­age­ment teams are a dis­grace in terms of di­ver­sity. You should do bet­ter than this and do it faster.

How does your in­ter­sec­tion al­low you to thrive?

I wouldn’t change my race or sex­u­al­ity for the world. The cul­tural rich­ness and the gay com­mu­nity I have been part of have made me a bet­ter per­son. I un­der­stand how lucky I am and the ran­dom na­ture of luck. To be born now in this so­ci­ety. Never has there been a bet­ter time to be Asian, gay (a women, dis­abled, trans­gen­der, etc) al­though there is still a long long way to go. But the ques­tion is will we leave our so­ci­ety a bet­ter place for our com­mu­ni­ties in fu­ture gen­er­a­tions than we in­her­ited, or will we go back­wards? Let’s hope bet­ter.

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