Gabriel Mokake / Gay Times

In collaboration with Gaysians, meet ten trailblazing figureheads paving the way for queer Asian representation in the mainstream.

“We have a problem with visibility in our community, which makes it harder for us to accept and celebrate ourselves. What better way to challenge this than by putting ten beautiful, successful, out Asian LGBTQ powerhouses on the cover,” writes Gaysian’s CEO Reeta Loi for the November 2018 issue of Gay Times. 

“This cover marks an important moment in the life of each individual and their lifelong dedication to their work whilst being visible, queer and Asian having been recognised – thank you Gay Times. But also, it’s a historic moment for us as a community. A community that is still so young in its forming that perhaps this is what brought out the playfulness that spread across the room at the shoot itself. Looking at each person and seeing a reflection of yourself, of your inner journey and a connection that transcends lifetimes.”

Gaysians cover features Lord Waheed Alli, Rena Brannan, Gok Wan, Luke Pagarani, Dr Ranj Singh, Asifa Lahore, Jonathan Phang, Suki Sandhu, Krishna Omkar and Reeta Loi.

Here, we speak to NHS Doctor, TV presenter, author & columnist Dr Ranj Singh.

How does your intersection allow you to thrive?
I treat my intersections as my strengths. Diversity is what drives progress and evolution. Personally, I’m honoured to be part of such a rich culture, and at the same time it has given me so many opportunities to thrive. I’m a proud, happy and fortunate queer Asian, and I wouldn’t ever change that for the world! I mean, I’m on Strictly Come Dancing for crying out loud… I’m living my best life!

What was the journey to finding your identity like?
My journey certainly hasn’t been easy, but is probably similar to many others. I came out relatively late – at the age of 30 – having previously been married to a woman I loved. That process was heartbreaking for me (and my partner). As painful as it was at the time, I now understand how important it was, and particularly how important it is for others who might be going through similar experiences to see.

Who are your queer heroes?
There are so many that it’s hard to name them all. I look up to so many people who are or have been leaders and trailblazers in our community. People ranging from Lady Phyll Opoku-Gyimah and Ruth Hunt, to Karamo Brown and Marsha P. Johnson.

What does it mean to you being part of the queer Asian community?
I’m proud to be part of a richly diverse heritage, and being part of the queer community adds even more colour to who I am and where I’m from. As queer Asians, we have so much to offer ourselves and to the wider world, so it’s time we recognised and celebrated it.

Have you ever faced discrimination or homophobia within your industry?
I personally haven’t, but I think I’m one of the lucky ones. The media industry is much more accepting, but I feel like the medical world has a little further to go. It’s a bit ironic that the caring profession could ever be prejudiced, but it does happen. People like myself (and so many others) are here to change that though.

What do you think could be done to help promote the acceptance of LGBTQ people in the Asian community?
Education, example and experience. Communities must be educated about the real world around them, and Asian people are good learners. Queer Asians need to be as visible as possible and set a good example to show others that you can be gay and Asian. Only by people having direct experience of how wonderfully beautiful and diverse our community is, will their viewpoints change. My family is a perfect example of that.

Related: Read Gaysians CEO’s letter for Gay Times: “It’s a historic moment for us as a community”

Photography Gabriel Mokake
Words William J Connolly
Fashion Paul Scott Coombs
Grooming Shamirah Sairally
Hair Tyron Sweeney
Production Assistant Solomon Warner
Location Rosewood Hotel London

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