Emergence: Out of the Shadows explores coming out and queer perseverance

The film links the stories of three gay South Asians reflecting a common experience in the community


Emergence: Out of the Shadows provides a unique insight into queer experiences from the South Asian community and their impact on the children and their parents. 

After their first documentary, My Name Was January, Sher Vancouver’s founder Alex Sangha produced a second film titled Emergence: Out of the Shadows. Directed by Vinay Giridhar, the inspiring documentary features the life-changing journeys of Kayden, Jag, and Sangha — referred to by his traditional name, Amar, in the film — as they discover their identities and try to find acceptance within their South Asian families and the world. 

The film will be screened by KDocs on Oct. 10, followed by a live discussion through Zoom on Oct. 11, which is National Coming Out Day. 

It’s an understatement to say coming out in Western society is never easy. It’s the hardest thing a queer person has to do. And Emergence shows us that coming out in a conservative, traditional South Asian family is nearly impossible. 

There is a particular pressure from parents for kids to meet their cultural expectations, and then there is a fear of the unknown. A fear the children feel as they discover themselves in an unaccepting world, and a fear the parents feel for the safety and future of their child.

Jag explained the confusion, shame, and loneliness a gay person feels quite well, touching on the fact that you have to come out to yourself, and then figure out how to come out to friends and family in the hopes of building a support network in a community that often says your existence isn’t possible. 

Including interviews from the parents of Amar and Jag, so they could share their journey of having gay kids, portrays a perspective rarely found in stories about the queer experience, and their acceptance and love forms a relationship many children dream of having. The film leaves a sense of hope in your heart that one day, all kids will have that. 

Children need the opportunity to grow up in a more open and accepting world. Teaching our kids that there are a range of possibilities in terms of sexuality and gender identity doesn’t just support queer youth, it teaches them that a healthier and safer world is possible.

“How do I take control of the narrative?” Kayden asks in the film, before talking about how the strongest action you can take is to share the pieces you try to hide from the world. 

But the responsibility isn’t just on the gay person, it’s on everyone to make safe spaces. We all have a responsibility to make the world and every community an accepting space. 

Kayden’s story of perseverance contains every gay person’s worst nightmare of family rejection, hatred, abuse, and homelessness. There is no realistic way for someone to prepare for that emotional damage or loss, and many queer people drown in those feelings and want to die because that’s all they feel is left for them. Emergence captures that feeling, but also counters it with hope. 

Kayden is on the path to healing, and his story will likely resonate with many gay South Asian people. It felt like Kayden was giving the message to my father, an unlucky man because he chose to miss out on his children. I hope that after watching this film other queer people believe in a brighter future for themselves and feel valued. 

It’s okay to not understand the gay, bisexual, or transgender communities, I don’t think you truly can unless you are a part of them. But we must keep our minds open to their existence and the possibilities that come with them. Most importantly, our children need to know that those communities exist and that there is a place for them in the world, and that there will always be a place for them in our families.