Khush Klatch

South Asian GLBT group honors families of LBT women

Yusef Najafi
Published on April 9, 2009, 12:00am | Comments

There are few who could claim to have explored the relationships between GLBT South Asians and their parents as deeply as Sonali Gulati. As a documentary filmmaker, Gulati has spent much of the past five years doing just that for a film she hopes to finish later this year, Out & About.

With that theme in mind, Gulati has helped to organize an April 11 event for KhushDC, the metro area's ''social, support and political group'' for GLBT South Asians, of which she is a board member. ''Loving Ties: Honoring South Asian Queer Women's Families'' will be an evening of conversation, dinner and honoring parents who have supported their lesbian, bisexual and transgender daughters, commemorating March as Women's History Month.

''I thought it would be really interesting to do something that we've never ever done before -- or for that matter, no other South Asian queer organization in the United States has ever done before -- which is to have a conversation with parents about coming out and talk about being supportive,'' says Gulati, 36, a lesbian and native of India who has lived in the U.S. for the past 16 years. She never had such an opportunity to speak with her own mother about her sexual orientation, her mother having died several years ago.

''I feel like that's one of the things in our community that doesn't end up happening. I thought it would be interesting to have an event where we could get parents to come and talk about it.''

Though the event focuses on LBT South Asian women, Gulati, a Richmond-based assistant professor at Virginia Commonwealth University's Department of Photography and Film, says coming out to one's parents is a rite of passage that makes Saturday's event appeal to anyone who is GLBT. The evening begins with a dinner, followed by a panel discussion featuring siblings and parents of group members, then offering attendees a chance to join the discussion with a question-and-answer period with those parents and siblings.

''We're going to have discussions about how [family members] have come to this point of acceptance,'' Gulati says, adding that some families featured on the panel have had wedding ceremonies for their daughters and their same-gender partners. The evening will end with an awards ceremony to recognize families that have embraced their GLBT members.

''We really want to honor their courage for coming out and speaking about this in the community. There are parents who are supportive, but they're just not in a position to come out in such a public way as some of these parents can,'' she says. ''It's not just about courage, sometimes it's about circumstances. We as a community want to honor them. They are straight allies for our community.''

''Loving Ties: Honoring South Asian Queer Women's Families'' will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. on Saturday, April 11, at the D.C. Jewish Community Center, 1529 16th St. NW. To reserve space at this free event, send an e-mail to RSVP.khushdc@gmail.com.