Updated September 20, 2022
Data are scarce on the health of queer and trans South Asians in the US. A 2006 needs assessment by South Asian Network and Satrang in Southern California found high levels of prejudice and discrimination (in both South Asian and LGBTQIA+ communities), high rates of mental distress, and limited healthcare use.
Across the United States, volunteer-run, community-based organizations are promoting social and mental health for queer and trans South Asians. Many of these are private Facebook groups designated to be safe spaces for members of those communities.
- DeQH – Desi LGBTQ Helpline: South Asian LGBQ/T peer support helpline that offers free, confidential, culturally sensitive peer support, information, and resources for LGBQ/T South Asian individuals, families, and friends around the globe.
- DesiQ Diaspora: The largest gathering of LGBTQ+ and GNC South Asian, Indo-Caribbean, and folks that identify within the South Asian Diaspora. Earlier conferences (DesiQ), held in 1995, 2000, 2006, and 2013, brought together hundreds of LGBTQ+ and GNC South Asian and Desi people from around the world to discuss the political and cultural issues that people in our communities face. The next one was postponed due to COVID-19 and is scheduled for 2022.
- Desi Rainbow Parents and Allies: A space for parents and families of LGBTQ+ individuals to find community with one another and learn how to better support their children including hosting educational and peer support events open to the wider community.
- Queering Desi: A podcast that celebrates the unique experiences of South Asian LGBTQ+ people. In each episode, a guest chats with long-time community activist and writer, Priya Arora, about their journey and what it means to be true to who you are.
- South Asian Sexual and Mental Health Alliance (SASMHA): A community for South Asian youth across the diaspora who need a space to dialogue and learn about issues key to who they are. SASMHA’s goal is to fight cultural stigmas, educate, and empower the South Asian American community by providing resources on the issues most important to us, from sex and sexuality to mental health.
- KhushATX (Austin): An active South Asian gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender group based in Austin, Texas. As Desis, we have unique challenges as we navigate our lives in the United States influenced by our sexual orientation, gender, ethnic identity, and culture. The main purpose of this group is to create a space for South Asian LGBTQ persons where we can meet, mingle, interact, commiserate, support each other, and, Of Course, have fun! We wish to increase acceptance and reduce the stigma of LGBTQ people within the local South Asian communities by increasing awareness. We also wish to add to the diversity of the queer community.
- KhushDC (Washington DC): A social, support and political group that provides a safe and supportive environment, promotes awareness and acceptance, and fosters positive cultural and sexual identity for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning (LGBTQ) and additional gender or sexual minority South Asians in the Washington, DC. metropolitan area.
- MASALA (Boston): The Massachusetts Area South Asian LAMBDA Association (MASALA) is a Massachusetts area South-Asian LGBTQ organization. MASALA offers, through social and political activities, a supportive, empowering, and non-judgmental environment, where queer South Asians can meet, make connections, and proudly promote awareness and acceptance of their sexuality in society. They also actively work against all forms of oppression based on race, gender, class, and other identities.
- Parivar (Bay Area): A South Asian collective creating spaces for Queer, Trans, and GNB folx that identify and relate to the South Asian and Beyond Diaspora. Through public events, social discussions, and support groups, Parivar aims to reclaim space and deliberately create inclusion beyond cisness for all marginalized voices in the community. Parivar powerfully welcomes all South Asian Queer identities including those form West Indian, Caribbean, African, and any other places.
- Queer South Asian Collective (QSAC) (Boston): Open to LGBTQIA+ folks in the greater Boston area who can trace their heritage to South Asia or the South Asian diaspora, including all descendants of indentureship histories. We aim to create spaces where folks can find community; share knowledge, skills, and experiences; and organize with each other as well as other marginalized communities towards collective liberation. We represent a broad variety of heritages, including and not limited to, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Ethiopia, Fiji, Guyana, India, Jamaica, Kenya, Libya, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritius, Nepal, Pakistan, Singapore, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Tanzania, and Trinidad and Tobago.
- Rangoli (Pittsburgh): A community initiative dedicated to creating a community for and uplifting the voices of LGBTQ+ South Asians in Pittsburgh. We aim to increase the visibility and representation of our intersection at every level.
- SALGA Philly (Philadelphia): A group for LGBT people who are from or trace their descent from such countries as Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Tibet. We act to bring the people of South Asian heritages together in a friendly, supportive, and non-judgmental environment. We promote awareness, visibility, and acceptance of alternative sexualities in society while affirming our South Asian identity.
- SALGA NYC (New York City): Serves to promote awareness, acceptance, empowerment, and to create a safe inclusive space for people of all sexual and gender identities, who trace their heritage to South Asian diaspora. SALGA’s mission is to enable community members to establish cultural visibility and take a stand against oppression and discrimination in all its forms.
- Satrang (Southern California): Serves the South Asian LGBTQ community by promoting awareness, acceptance, and empowerment through social, educational, and advocacy-related events. We envision an inclusive and visible community in which South Asian LGBTQ-identified people feel whole and heard.
- Trikone Bay Area (Founding Chapter): A registered non-profit organization for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) people of South Asian descent, who trace their ethnicities to one of the following places: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Myanmar (Burma), Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Tibet. Founded in 1986 in the San Francisco Bay Area, Trikone is the oldest group of its kind in the world.
- Trikone Atlanta: A social and support group for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender people of South Asian heritage and their friends in the Southeastern United States. South Asia is comprised of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Burma, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Tibet, and the Diaspora.
- Trikone Chicago: Strives to create a supportive and non-judgmental environment, where LGBT South Asians can meet, make connections, and proudly promote awareness and acceptance of their gender and sexuality in society. We work towards the following goals: bring people of South Asian heritage together; promote awareness, visibility, and cultural and legal acceptance of people with alternative sexual orientations and gender identities; help people proudly affirm both their South Asian identity and their sexual orientation.
- Trikone Michigan: South Asian LGBT group for folks in Michigan and surrounding areas.
- Trikone Northwest: Serving the South Asian community in Seattle for over 20 years. Trikone Northwest is a vibrant, diverse group of individuals creating a social, supportive, educational, and political space for LGBTQ and differently-oriented South Asians and their families, friends, allies, and community.
- Trikone Tampa Bay: Promotes awareness, acceptance, and celebration of South Asian culture; provides a safe and supportive environment for social interaction; helps individuals who are struggling with their sexuality.