Ascend Asks: Subi Subramani, Senior Consultant, Finance & Performance, Deloitte

Ascend Asks: Subi Subramani, Senior Consultant, Finance & Performance, Deloitte

Ascend Canada sat down with Subi Subramani, Senior Consultant, Finance & Performance, Deloitte, to discuss her journey as a queer Pan-Asian individual in Calgary, the challenges she has faced, and the opportunities for stronger representation and allyship. Subi goes by the pronouns she/her. We would like to acknowledge and encourage our pan-Asian community to go and support the Calgary Pride Parade, which is just around the corner beginning on Friday, August 26.

Ascend Asks is an occasional Q&A feature highlighting senior leaders across industries and their lived experiences, both personal and professional, to help provide a deeper understanding of diversity and inclusion in the Pan-Asian community.

By Justin Leung and Jennifer Hu

Ascend Canada: Thank you for taking the time to speak with us, Subi! To start off, please tell us a bit about you and your career journey.

Subi Subramani: I started my career working in a midsize firm, focused in accounting and tax work for small businesses, while doing my CPA at the same time. I was looking to work for a larger, global firm, but also one that truly accepted me for who I am as a queer person, and as a person of colour. While I gained a lot of professional experience at that firm, I could not be my true self in the company.

Fortunately, I later landed a job with Deloitte, which is actually a very inclusive company. I was able to be who I am and in a professional sense as well. I started my work there in the queer space, bringing awareness of the queer community to the firm.

During this time, I was in a relationship with my partner who is now my wife, and we realized how difficult it is for South Asian people to live their authentic lives. My wife and I want to live our authentic lives as much as we can, and be able to bring that positive influence to others. Maybe someone reading this blog post and seeing a picture of our wedding or a picture of us will feel that they can live their life authentically too and they don’t have to hide who they are because they see someone else like me living their lives!

Ascend Canada: What other issues are the LGBTQ2+ community facing that many people outside of the community may not be aware of? You’ve mentioned that there’s not a lot of representation from the South Asian and East Asian community, but is there anything else that you’d like to include?

Subi: That’s definitely one of the very important points as that divide still currently exist.

The other issue that I think is prevalent in the community, I discovered when I met my wife, Tina, is family acceptance. Though my family is quite supportive in a sense, I still had my own issues with them, but it was nothing like what my wife went through. There was no acceptance from her family. It was only just last month did her family finally accepted us as a couple and gave us their blessings. That was very important to us because we should try as much as we can to bridge that gap and thankfully, we were able to. Now after four years, my wife and her family are talking.

However much we talk about a “chosen family” and how you can choose your family, your blood is your blood. You don’t just forget your family and I think it’s easy for people around you who see that you’re happy to disregard that aspect. That thought of your parents not accepting you and you not having that relationship with them will always be at the back of your mind.

Ascend Canada: It’s definitely inspiring to hear that it worked out well for you and that you have that mission of being that inspiration for other people to show it can happen. Can you tell us a bit more about what Pride means to you?

Subi: Pride is just a word in itself. For a very long time (and still ongoing) in the queer community, there is this shame associated with LGBTQ2+ people, and especially within the Asian community. Shame is so ingrained in our lives that I know the word pride brings a lot of meaning.

Being Asian and also a part of the queer community, I feel like it’s such a dichotomy. You have to choose one or the other, you cannot be both. That’s why Pride Month is so important – I want to showcase the fact that I’m South Asian and proud of who I am. I focus on that not just in the month of June, but all year round.

Ascend Canada: Talk to us about the challenges of intersectionality and how it is difficult to connect the LGBTQ2+ community and the Asian community.

Subi: When I first realized I was queer and going to events, I didn’t notice it then, but now I think, “Why is it so white? Why are we (South Asians) not there and why is there not a lot more representation?”

Representation matters. A lot of queer people in the Asian community don’t live their authentic lives because they don’t see people like them. I think I’ve met most of my queer Indian South Asian friends this past year; before that I didn’t even know they existed.

There needs to be resources specific to Pan-Asians because it’s very different given the various backgrounds and cultures. For people who aren’t Asian, it’s easier for them to find resources, people who look like them, and other examples to refer to, etc.

Ascend Canada: To close off this insightful interview, do you have any tips or advice you want to communicate to our readers about how we can keep this conversation going beyond just Pride Month? What can we adopt in our day-to-day lives year round to continue to be supportive allies?

Subi: I come from a family that will do anything for their daughter; they will accept me for whoever I am. That’s the type of family I come from and a lot of people don’t come from that kind of family. So I’m definitely coming from a place of privilege and I fully recognize all of this when I say the next statement.

If you are able to and have the family structure that provides you the opportunity to be open and live your authentic life, please do live that life because I was able to be who I am and openly so without threat of death.

There are those younger and others who want to live openly and maybe they can only do so vicariously through you, so you living openly will give them hope and inspiration that one day they can be who they are too. When we represent our culture, our people can live openly, find that hope and have a role model that looks and acts like them to look up to too.

This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.

About Justin Leung and Jennifer Hu:

Justin Leung is a volunteer with Ascend Canada. He is passionate about developing Pan-Asian leadership, and being a strong ally to the Pan-Asian 2SLGBTQ community.

Jennifer Hu volunteers as a part of the Ascend Canada events team. She hopes that by highlighting the intersectionality of the Pan Asian and 2SLGTBQ+ communities, we can make strides towards building more inclusive spaces where individuals can bring their authentic selves.