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New documentary explores the intersecting identities of being gay and South Asian

Produced by Delta-based Sher Films, Emergence: Out of the Shadows explores how culture plays a role in self-discovery and self-acceptance
Producer Alex Sangha, right, is pictured with Kayden Bhangu, one of the stars of the documentary.

Coming out is not an easy journey for anybody to take, but particularly for folks within a conservative, traditional South Asian family.

Emergence: Out of the Shadows, directed by Vinay Giridhar and produced by Alex Sangha captures exactly this – the complex, painful but resilient journeys of three gay South Asians and their families coming to terms with their sexuality.

As a Sher Films feature documentary, the project was created as an extension of the non-profit charity for LGBTQ+ South Asians and their friends and families, Sher Vancouver – which was founded by Sangha back in 2008 in North Delta.

“We also wanted to talk about different topics of bullying, and racism, and homophobia and the struggles we all face within the community because we are not only queer, we’re also a visible minority. So, we have intersectional types of oppression, and discrimination and unique challenges – some of which you’ll actually get to witness in the film,” says Sangha, who also shares his own story as a cast member in Emergence.

The documentary centres around Kayden Bhangu, Jag Nagra and Sangha’s individual stories of self-discovery and self-acceptance.

Significantly, the interview-driven Emergence also includes parents’ perspectives.

“There’s hardly any films about the reactions of the parents … The parents also are going through their own struggle, and their own journey [of acceptance] and their own sort of coming out experience,” says Sangha.

It was important to both director Giridhar and Sangha to present these stories in a holistic, “human” way so that anybody can watch it and understand the impact that culture has on being open about sexuality.

“It’s a human story about love, and about rejection and about acceptance. And also, about the mental trauma, psychological trauma that people can go through … It’s a really emotionally gripping and emotionally-touching story that any human being who has any degree of compassion can relate to,” says Sangha.

Emergence: Out of the Shadows will be the second documentary put out by Sher Films, with the first one being the award-winning My Name Was January.

And so far, Emergence has been accepted at eight film festivals.

Social justice film production is one of Sher Vancouver’s 10 programs that works toward helping reduce alienation and discrimination against folks dealing with issues related to sexuality, gender and coming out.

Sangha would like to thank all of the generous sponsors, including the City of Delta, in making this documentary possible.

If you’d like to donate to Sher Vancouver to support their ability to offer services and programs that help the LGBTQ+ community, visit their website.

And check out Emergence: Out of the Shadows’ trailer, also available on Sher Films’ YouTube channel.

A screening of Emergence is slated for Nov. 20 at the North Delta Centre for the Arts.