Emotional Vulnerability, Contentment and Joy
A Summary of the Open Minds (Khula Mana) LGBTQ+ Support Group which took place on the 30th of October 2019
Thank you to St Luke’s Community Centre for hosting Octobers’ Open Minds (Khula Mana) LGBTQ+ Support Group. The group was facilitated by Dr Kuljit Bhogal on behalf of Sarbat and Taraki. This is a summary of some of the group discussion.
Responding to feedback from previous sessions, the small group conversations were extended to give people more time to get to know each other. People had the option of discussing the main topics or a topic of their choice.
During the large group discussion some of the group reflected on how much they enjoyed hearing so many different perspectives on being LGBTQ+ and Sikh / Punjabi. We shared some of our coming out stories and we had an interesting discussion about how we can have honest and meaningful conversations with our parents, even when they are reluctant to have them.
It was interesting hearing some of the personal stories of having ‘honest conversations’ with our parents. The experience of the group was that these conversations take time and it’s not always easy to ‘be heard’ by our families.
There were a range of positive and negative stories about how people had tried to explain and educate their parents about being LGBTQ+. Some attendees felt that seeing their parents as people as well as parents helped them to understand some of their negative attitudes or behaviours. Sometimes having this understanding helped improve potentially difficult conversations or made them less painful. The conversation moved onto the differences between the male and female experiences in Sikh Punjabi families. Women felt “lost” in families. They felt their role was simply to
provide a male child and look after the household. We talked about the fact that gender roles are very difficult to challenge and that much of society is organised around the needs of the straight cis-gendered man.
Some Punjabi families are more open minded than others. We talked about the fact that it is difficult to hear these stories as there is no single source of information about the culture of Sikh Punjabi people. Media representation of the Sikh Punjabi LGBTQ+ experience can be negative or too simple.
Next month’s meeting will have a joint male and female chair. The topic will be gender and gender roles in Punjabi (Sikh) families and culture.
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