Winner of the January Marie Lapuz Youth Leadership Award for 2016 is Sukhdeep Singh

 

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Sukhdeep Singh 

Sukhdeep Singh is the founder and editor-in-chief of Gaylaxy Magazine, India’s No. 1 LGBTQ+ Magazine.

He is an alumnus of the Indian Institute of Technology (Indian School of Mines) (IIT-ISM) Dhanbad, India.

Sukhdeep started the magazine in the final semester of his Bachelor of Technology Programme in 2010 to provide a platform to the LGBTQ+ community to express themselves and highlight their stories and issues.

He works in a multinational corporation as a software professional and today the magazine consists of a team of 10 people, with over 150 contributors and 1500 posts, with an exclusive section in Hindi that remains the only one of its kind online LGBTQ+ resource in Hindi.

His writings have appeared in Huffington Post India, Trikone Magazine (USA), Varta, and Germany based travel portal Ebab.

His articles on Sikhism and homosexuality have challenged the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) and Akal Takht’s stand that Sikhism is against homosexuality and forbids it.

Sukhdeep received a $500 cash prize in Canadian funds from Sher Vancouver founder, Alex Sangha.

Sukhdeep was selected to receive the award in 2016 “because of the significant influence and impact he is having on advancing LGBTQ+ rights in India and South Asia and abroad, not to mention his innovative use of technology on various platforms to create more awareness of LGBTQ+ issues.  The selection committee was also very much aware of the fact that it takes considerable courage to advocate for LGBTQ+ rights in India where homosexuality is still very much a taboo in society.”

Personal Statement of Sukhdeep Singh

  • I launched Gaylaxy (www.gaylaxymag.com) as an online magazine at the age of 21 in Jan 2010, while still studying my Engineering. India back then lacked a magazine that catered to the needs and demands of the LGBTQ+ community. The first issue itself had over 1000 readers. In these 7 years, Gaylaxy has grown as a platform that connects the LGBTQ+ community and provides them information as well as entertainment. Gaylaxy as a medium has published many personal, powerful and heart touching stories of LGBTQ+ individuals, including coming out stories, stories of gay men trapped in straight marriages. Gaylaxy is also an important LGBTQ+ news source, extensively covering and documenting not just pride marches happening in various cities and towns across India, but also any news of violence faced by LGBTQ+ individuals as well as Govt. policies that benefit/affect the community. It has also provided a platform to many budding writers and poets, whose short stories and poems have been published. Gaylaxy is also emerging as a strong LGBTQ+ voice in South Asia, with a number of Pakistani LGBTQ+ activists and writers joining the magazine and writing about the happenings in their country as well.
  • With the aim to reach out to more people, a Hindi edition of Gaylaxy was started in 2014, with Sachin Jain as its editor. A majority of Indians do not speak English. 41.1% of Indians, or more than a million Indian, speak/understand Hindi. However, most of the resources or websites related to LGBTQ+ are in English, meaning that a vast majority of Indians do not have access to LGBTQ+ literature/information. Gaylaxy Hindi was launched with the aim to fill this void and in these 3 years, has published many articles in Hindi and acts as a resource guide for many Hindi speaking Indians.
  • Gaylaxy has also been conducting on-ground events and engaging with college students to bring in more awareness about LGBTQ+ issues among the youth, as well as conduct events to provide a social space to the community. We held a workshop in Presidency University, Kolkata on Gender, Sexuality, and Power; LGBTQ+ movies were screened too at the same university and was followed by panel discussion. I was the speaker at a march organised by IIT Delhi and other Delhi University students in October 2016, where I spoke on Coming Out. We also went to IIT Delhi during their cultural fest Rendezevous and interacted with students from different colleges who had come there and raised awareness on LGBTQ+ issues through situational games etc. Apart from that, Gaylaxy organized an Open Mic session in Oct 2016 on Coming Out where issues related to coming out were discussed. A Queer Carnival was held in November 2016 which provided a platform for various LGBTQ+ people to showcase their talent.
  • With mobile penetration increasing in India, a Gaylaxy app was also launched on android platform in 2014 so that all the information could be easily accessed by people.

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