South Asian Newsletter Begins Publication Summary

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

The publication and distribution of Trikone, the newsletter of the group of the same name, set in motion the creation of an international network of support groups for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender South Asians. The newsletter became Trikone Magazine in 1993 and remains in circulation.

Summary of Event

In the 1980’s, the lesbian and gay community in the San Francisco Bay Area was vibrant. There were dozens of bars, restaurants, and shops serving the social needs of a thriving population of lesbians and gays. Additionally, out of the horrors of the HIV-AIDS crisis came lesbian and gay support groups as well as new knowledge of the basics of political organizing. Yet, for some individuals who were seeking social and political connections with those with similar ethnic and cultural backgrounds, this scene was less than ideal. [kw]South Asian Newsletter Trikone Begins Publication (Jan., 1986) [kw]Asian Newsletter Trikone Begins Publication, South (Jan., 1986) [kw]Newsletter Trikone Begins Publication, South Asian (Jan., 1986) [kw]Trikone Begins Publication, South Asian Newsletter (Jan., 1986) [kw]Publication, South Asian Newsletter Trikone Begins (Jan., 1986) Trikone Magazine Publications;Trikone Magazine South Asian gays and lesbians Media;Trikone Magazine [c]Publications;Jan., 1986: South Asian Newsletter Trikone Begins Publication[1670] [c]Organizations and institutions;Jan., 1986: South Asian Newsletter Trikone Begins Publication[1670] Kumar, Arvind Das, Suvir

After finishing graduate school in 1982, Arvind Kumar, originally from India, moved to Palo Alto, California. Although he participated in the activities of several lesbian and gay groups at local universities, as well as activities sponsored by groups such as Pacific Friends—aimed expressly at Asians and Pacific Islanders—Kumar felt that some sort of cultural connection was missing between him and other gay men. Specifically, he was looking for an organization that provided a supportive space where he could meet other gays and lesbians who, like himself, were of South Asian (Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Sri Lankan, Nepalese, Bhutanese, Burmese [Myanmar], Tibetan, Maldivian, and Afghani) descent.

In the early 1980’s, there were no groups or publications explicitly for lesbians and gays from South Asia. While Anamika, Anamika (newsletter) a newsletter for South Asian lesbian and bisexual women, began publication in 1985, it soon folded.

In late 1985, Kumar met fellow Indian Suvir Das and the two struck up a friendship. Eventually, they determined that unless they organized their own group for individuals of South Asian descent, they would never meet others with a similar sociocultural background. In January of 1986, using the existing lesbian and gay periodicals in the San Francisco Bay Area as models, the two began publishing a newsletter. They chose to name the newsletter Trikone, Sanskrit for “triangle,” as a reminder of past injustices (the triangle was used to identify lesbians and gays in Nazi concentration camps) as well as a symbol of gay and lesbian pride and unity.

Because there was no network for lesbian and gay South Asians, Kumar and Das did not have a mailing list for the newsletter, thus they sent the inaugural issue to local and national lesbian and gay newspapers and magazines as well as to the publishers of mainstream Indian-run newspapers around the United States. Issues also were sent to individuals in India and to other areas of South Asia for distribution. Almost immediately, Trikone began serving as an umbrella under which lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals of South Asian descent could gather, regardless of gender, class, religion, or national origin.

As the newsletter was being published, the social-support group, also called Trikone, was being formed by the small number of men who had worked on the newsletter. Subsequently, members of this group marched in the June, 1986, gay and lesbian pride parade in San Francisco, which provided, perhaps for the first time, a public face to the lesbian and gay South Asian community.

In April of 1993, the newsletter became a glossy quarterly called Trikone Magazine (www.trikone .org), and it has since won critical acclaim. It can be found in bookshops as well as on the library shelves of colleges and universities in the United States and in South Asia. The magazine features editorials, letters, news, poetry, artwork, fiction, interviews, film and book reviews, classified ads, and more. Topics cover interracial relationships and marriage, youth and aging, arts and entertainment, and immigration. Additionally, each issue of Trikone Magazine features an important resource section that includes Web sites of interest, lists of other relevant publications, and South Asian contacts—both international and domestic. In February of 1995, Trikone’s board elected cogender cochairs, creating a more gender-inclusive organization that reflected the group’s diversity.

Significance

Trikone, and the group that formed by those who worked on assembling the newsletter, has inspired the formation of other groups using “Trikone” in their names. These include Trikone-Tejas (Texas), Trikone-Northwest (Seattle), and Trikone-Atlanta. Other gay and lesbian South Asian organizations that followed in the footsteps of the “original” Trikone include Gay Bombay, South Asian Network (SAN), South Asian Lesbian and Gay Association of New York (SALGA), and Satrang (formerly Trikone-Los Angeles), to name just a few.

As further testament to the influence of Trikone, organizations aimed at cultural groups other than South Asian have emerged across the United States and around the world as well. Examples include the Gay and Lesbian Armenian Society (GALAS), Los Angeles Greek Gay and Lesbian Association, and the Iranian Lesbian/Gay and Bisexual Community (known as HOMAN).

The diligence of Arvind Kumar, Suvir Das, and the other founding members of Trikone has inspired the founding of a number of social, political, cultural, and support organizations around the world whose purpose is to empower South Asian lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender individuals, and those questioning their sexuality. Trikone Magazine Publications;Trikone Magazine South Asian gays and lesbians Media;Trikone Magazine

Further Reading
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Eng, David, and Alice Y. Hom. Q & A: Queer in Asian America. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1998.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Kumar, Arvind, and Suvir Das. “First Editorial.” Trikone 1 (1986): 10.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Paranjape, Makarand, ed. Diaspora: Theories, Histories, Texts. New Delhi, India: Indialong, 2001.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Ratti, Rakesh, ed. A Lotus of Another Color: An Unfolding of the South Asian Gay and Lesbian Experience. Boston: Alyson, 1993.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Shankar, Lavina Dhingra, and Rajini Srikanth, eds. A Part, Yet Apart: South Asians in Asian America. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1998.

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