I am truly fulfilled that I have raised a wonderful son. This journey was not easy for me. Alex is openly gay. In the Punjabi Sikh culture there is not much knowledge about what being gay means and how it can impact someone.
My son really struggled but he survived. He founded Sher Vancouver in 2008 which is now a registered charity to help people like him. He did not want people to be alone and suffer. In 2012, the Social Coordinator of Sher Vancouver, January Marie Lapuz, was tragically murdered. In order to honour her legacy, Alex created a youth leadership award and produced his first short documentary, My Name Was January, which went on to win 15 international awards and garnered 66 official selections at film festivals.
He just released his debut feature film, Emergence: Out of the Shadows, which has been accepted at an Academy Award qualifying festival in Atlanta. Alex not only runs a registered charity and produces documentary films, he has an established counselling practice focusing on mental health. I am so proud of him as a mother because he has chosen to create a rich, wonderful, colourful, and creative life where he can make a difference in the lives of vulnerable people every day.
-Jaspal Kaur Sangha, Mother
Which ‘hood are you in?
I live in North Delta which is rapidly becoming a suburb of Surrey. There are a lot of South Asian people in North Delta and Surrey so I fit nicely in the community. I really don’t feel like I am a visible minority in my hood.
What do you do?
I am a social worker, counsellor, teacher, documentary film producer, and I am the Founder of a registered charity called the Sher Vancouver LGBTQ Friends Society. So, I am pretty busy, but I manage to find time for rest, relaxation, swimming, sunshine, and good food. I am a bit of a foodie!
What are you currently working on?
I am working on editing three short films from my recently released debut feature documentary, Emergence: Out of the Shadows. Emergence is about the coming out journey of three gay South Asians in Metro Vancouver and the reactions of their parents. The three films will be the perfect length for high schools about 20 to 25 minutes each. Kayden, Jag, and Amar’s story. We have also just created an Official Teacher’s Discussion Guide and hope to go into high schools, colleges, and universities to have screenings and discussions. I want to do what I can to reduce bullying, racism, homophobia, and transphobia.
The feature film will be broadcast across Canada on OUTtv and made available on their streaming site OUTtvGo. DVD and digital downloads and the discussion guide will also be available for sale from Moving Images Distribution which is a social justice non-profit educational distributor in Vancouver.
For Kayden, Jag, and Amar, awakening to and expressing their sexuality within conservative South Asian families was a lonely and terrifying experience. Denial, shame and despair haunted their youths, even threatening their lives. Yet, they’ve emerged. In the gripping feature documentary Emergence: Out of the Shadows, the disparate journeys of Kayden, Jag and Amar candidly converge around a shared sense of compassion and healing as they bravely convey their often heart-wrenching stories. Confronted with tradition and taboo in their Punjabi Sikh cultures, resisting silence, Jag’s parents and Amar’s mother choose love over rejection, offering courage and inspiration to individuals and communities struggling with acceptance. Tender, thoughtful and teary, Emergence: Out of the Shadows asserts a potent and transformative voice in support of marginalized queer youth and their families.
Where can we find your work?
Emergence: Out of the Shadows
Official Website: https://emergencefilm.net/
Sher Vancouver LGBTQ Friends Society
Official Website: https://www.shervancouver.com/
Amar (Alex) Sangha Counselling
Official Website: https://amarsanghacounselling.com/