According to his Twitter bio, San Diego resident Jiwandeep Kohli is a neuroscientist, a clinical psychologist in training and an amateur pastry chef.
Now, he can add “viral sensation” to the list.
On Saturday, Kohli tweeted a photo from an event celebrating the beginning of Pride month. In it, the Sikh man wore a bright rainbow turban.
In the caption, Kohli wrote: “I’m proud to be a bisexual baking brain scientist. I feel fortunate to be able to express all these aspects of my identity, and will continue to work toward ensuring the same freedom for others.”
The tweet quickly captured the attention of Twitter users around the world, with more than 6,000 retweets and 51,000 likes by Tuesday.
According to Kohli, it took “about an hour of tying, untying and safety pinning” to get the rainbow effect just right.
I’m proud to be a bisexual bearded baking brain scientist. I feel fortunate to be able to express all these aspects of my identity, and will continue to work toward ensuring the same freedom for others. #PrideMonth #PrideTurban #LoveIsLove pic.twitter.com/SVhc0iwDF0
— Jiwandeep Kohli (@jiwandeepkohli) June 1, 2019
In a recent interview, Kohli said he was inspired by another Sikh man’s rainbow turban.
“I realize that by being so visible, I’m opening myself up to backlash and negativity, but it’s entirely offset by the sense of community that it’s engendered,” Kohli said.
“I’m receiving so many messages of support and sheer joy, and also a striking number of thanks from people who aren’t as fortunate as me to be able to display their identities.”
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The response to Kohli’s tweet was overwhelmingly positive.
Even former U.S. president Barack Obama thanked him for his effort to improve representation.
You've got a lot to be proud of, Jiwandeep. Thanks for everything you do to make this country a little more equal. Turban looks great, by the way. Happy Pride Month, everybody! https://t.co/SO7mgnOkgl
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) June 4, 2019
For Kohli, the rainbow turban is a marriage of two major parts of his identity: his sexuality and his religion.
“It’s a sign to the world that I am an individual who stands for equality and justice, and that people can turn to me in times of need for help,” he told Yahoo Lifestyle.
“What better way than with a Pride rainbow to show that my values for inclusivity and egalitarianism extend beyond just religious freedom?”
My heart is absolutely exploding with the massive outpouring of love and support. I’m on my way to Rome for a conference and I’ll be using my seven hour layover to take it all in!
— Jiwandeep Kohli (@jiwandeepkohli) June 4, 2019
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