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South Asian Heritage Month (18 July – 17 August) might be over, but that doesn’t mean our drive to uplift outstanding LGBTQ+ figures must come to an end. Over the recent years, we’ve seen numerous actors, activists and entertainers become leading voices in the queer community. Together, they have continued to spotlight their unique experiences and advocate for greater acceptance within the South Asian community.

In the feature below, we’ve named a range of multi-faceted creators, entertainers, and activists who have been outspoken about the intersection of South Asian and LGBTQ+ identities. Homophobia and hate have no space in our community and, here, at GAY TIMES, we seek to platform and uplift marginalised voices to share their diverse stories.

Check out the list below to learn more about some of our favourite British South Asian icons.

Mawaan Rizwan

Mawaan Rizwan is an actor, comedian and writer. Rizwan is most notably known for his stand up work and, more recently, his writing role on Netflix’s hit show Sex Education.

In 2015, the comedian travelled to Pakistan, where he was born, to film a documentary that looked at LGBTQ+ communities existing under Islamic law. Same-sex relations are currently criminalised under the Penal Code 1860 and the Hudood Ordinance 1979, according to the Human Dignity Trust.

Throughout his BBC Three documentary, How Gay Is Pakistan?, Rizwan talked to members of the LGBTQ+ community living in fear of persecution and tried to understand the anti-LGBTQ+ culture prevalent in Pakistan. You can learn more about the 50-minute film here.



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Reeta Loi

Reeta Loi is a musician, writer and activist. Loi is the CEO and founder of Gaysians; an umbrella brand for the South Asian LGBTQIA+ community. They are also an active writer on LGBTQ+ topics and has contributed to GAY TIMES over the years, including an important feature unpacking why South Asian representation is necessary within the drag community. You can read their feature here.



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Mohsin Zaidi

Mohsin Zaidi is a barrister and author. Zaidi is best known for his acclaimed coming of age memoir, A Dutiful Boy. The debut book explores his experiences growing up gay in a Muslim household in Britain. The deeply emotional memoir follows Zaidi as he sought to find acceptance and closure within his family, religion, and himself. A Dutiful Boy is a must-read that will move you.



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Jameela Jamil

Jameela Jamil is an acclaimed actor, model, and activist. Jamil is best known for her charity work and activism in tackling damaging Hollywood and model industry standards. The 35-year-old has also received international recognition portraying Tahani Al-Jamil in NBC’s fantasy comedy, The Good Place.



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Sharan Dhaliwal

Sharan Dhaliwal is the founder of the leading South Asian magazine, Burnt Roti. The magazine is a pioneering outlet offering space for stories of breaking taboos and covering diverse identities.

Dhaliwal has become an outspoken public figure by using her platform to address the representation of young women, South Asian women and queer women.



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Raheem Mir

Raheem Mir is a drag queen and an outspoken activist who recently hosted a TEDx Talk which explores the adornment of gender identity through Kathak dance.

Mir studied an M.A. in Contemporary Performance and Practice from Royal Holloway, University of London, and has used their skill of dance to challenge gender norms and encourage body fluidity.



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Shiva Raichandani

Shiva Raichandani is a multidisciplinary non-binary performance artist who uses art and dance to inspire social change. Raichandani uses their platform to debunk stigmas around mental health, sexuality and gender identities.

More recently, Raichandani won the inaugural Netflix Documentary Talent Fund and has been commissioned to direct a short documentary, titled Peach Paradise, on Japanese-Irish drag artist ShayShay and their Pan-Asian collective, The Bitten Peach.



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Lucky Roy Singh

Lucky Roy Singh is a well-known drag queen and activist. Singh’s book, Take a Walk in My Big Indian Heels: Mr Singh’s Diary, encapsulates the struggles they encountered as an LGBTQ+ person and artist.

Sigh received significant press attention for their story. The 28-year-old was forced to live as a woman in order to marry their partner. Their struggle highlights the challenges of being accepted within the Asian communitiy and finding self-acceptance.


Dr Ranj

Dr Ranj, Ranj Singh, is one of TV’s most recognisable British Asian presenters and doctors. Ranj has been committed to educating audiences on healthcare as well as speaking out on LGBTQ+ issues.

Singh most recently competed as a celebrity dancer on Strictly Come Dancing. The doctor also gained attention for co-creating (and presenting) a CBeebies children’s show, Get Well Soon, from 2012 to 2015.


Asifa Lahore

Asifa Lahore is a Muslim drag queen that has been spotlighting Brown drag art in the industry. In 2016, Lahore took part in the #OpenLetterstoQueerBritain project hosted by Levi’s, Queer Britain, and Royal Mail. The project was donated to the archives of the UK’s first LGBTQ+ museum.

In 2015, Asifa featured in Channel 4’s documentary on Muslim Drag Queens, which was narrated by Sir Ian McKellen. A year later, in 2016, she was also the face of Channel 4’s diversity campaign, True Colour TV.



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