On September 6, 2018 the Supreme Court of India decriminalised Section 377 and ruled that consensual adult gay sex is not a crime. The judgement was widely welcomed but prejudices remain within the society and life continues to be harsh for the LGBTQ+ community. However, a group of Indo-Canadians decided to bring the issue out of closet, breaking the taboo and living the life they desire. And they encapsulated all this in a feature documentary titled, ‘Emergence: Out of the Shadows.’ The film, which has an Indian origin cast and crew, has now caught the fancy of the North American media. Overpowering emotions, shocking revelations, sombre moods, teary eyed narrative are eventually met with hope as parents accept children unconditionally, the way they are, redefining the idea of love.
The film explores the struggles and strengths of two South Asians who have emerged from similar experiences in Vancouver– a gay man, Amar, and lesbian, Jag. Sharing their stories of coming out experiences within a traditional South Asian community gives a rare glimpse into the challenges faced with traditional South Asian families.
Parents are caught in an internal dilemma and conflict as they try to make sense of traditional beliefs, values and morals while holding on to the love, acceptance and concern they have for their children.
Made by Alex Sangha, a social worker and counsellor, he was awarded by the Governor General of Canada with the Meritorious Service Medal for founding Sher Vancouver, a not-for-profit society and registered charity for LGBTQ+ in the South Asian community. Sangha dedicated this award to his mother, Jaspal Kaur who raised Sangha and his two brothers as a single parent. Sangha earlier also made the film, ‘My Name Was January’, which went on to win 15 international awards and 66 official selections at film festivals around the world.
Director Vinay Giridhar says, “The film can help you understand the unique challenges faced by LGBTQ community of South Asia.” Alex has a Masters in Public Administration and Public Policy from the Department of Government at the London School of Economics, and a Masters of Social Work from Dalhousie University. In addition, he has a Bachelor of Social Work from the University of British Columbia. Alex is a Registered Clinical Social Worker and Registered Clinical Counsellor. He currently runs his own private counselling practice in North Delta, BC.
Jaspal Sangha is the mother of three grown boys whom she raised largely as a single parent working as a nurse’s aide for many years. She was born in Punjab, India where she worked as a Punjabi teacher and is a breast cancer survivor. Avtar and Rajwant Nagra
Avtar and Rajwant Nagra in the film are devout Sikhs and since finding out that both of their children are gay, they have spent the last number of years being advocates to the LGBTQ+ community and have helped break down barriers in the South Asian community.
Jag Nagra is an artist and has been with Sher Vancouver since 2008 where she found support and acceptance. She and her wife are proud parents to their two young children. Through her art, she proudly represents her queer and South Asian identities.
Kayden Bhangu, lead protagonist, is a recent immigrant to Metro Vancouver from Punjab. He is the current Vice President of Sher Vancouver and has been involved in running Sher’s peer support groups and organizing events. Kayden completed an Associate Degree in Computer Science at Langara College.