SURREY — Sher Vancouver is celebrating its 10-year-anniversary celebration at the Bollywood Banquet Hall in Surrey on April 22.
The non-profit organization for the LGBTQ community will celebrate the milestone with music, food and a South Asian buffet dinner.
Alex Sangha is the founder of Sher Vancouver. He said the organization initially began as a ‘Yahoo Group.’
“We basically started as an online resource and then we became a social welfare group and now we are a non-profit society,” Sangha said. “It’s our 10 years of existence.”
The event is called ‘Desi-Q Cultural Celebration.’ Desi in Sanskrit means South Asian or, more specifically, people from Indian subcontinent. The Q stands for queer, Sangha told the Now-Leader.
“It’s an opportunity for our community to get together and reflect on the last 10 years,” he said.
Sangha said when the group started in 2008, there was some backlash. He says someone even told him, “there’s no such thing as gay Sikh.”
Sangha said that a lot of people in the South Asian community don’t understand gay or lesbian.
“Lot of times, I find it surprising that I have to do this education with my community about who I am,” he said. “Diversity is kind of like the fundamental hallmark of creation, so why would sexuality be any different?”
Sangha said the group reached out to various communities in Metro Vancouver on things that they do as a society and that’s when they became an affiliated agency of the Progressive Intercultural Community Services (PICS).
Last year, Sher Vancouver became the first South Asian LGBTQ society to participate in a Vaisakhi parade.
“Nothing comes easy to us,” Sangha said. “We have to be vigilant and be constantly on guard, our rights can be stripped at any given time. All the progress that we are making in the community can change.”
Sangha said he is worried about changes that are happening to rights of the LGBTQ community in the U.S.
“We are living in a dream world if we think that Canada is immune from the same type of discrimination and oppression about the United States experiences,” Sangha said. “We have it here as well.”
Tickets to the April 22 event are by donation. Sangha said that the suggested donation is between $15 to $25. Tickets are available at Eventbrite.
Bollywood Banquet Hall is located at 201-8166 at 128 Street in Surrey and the event starts at 6 p.m.