This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Anju Anna John. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

With Its 5th Pride March, Here”s What Kerala”s LGBT Community Is Striving For

More from Anju Anna John

By Anju Anna John:

On the 26th of July, Kochi will see the largest gathering of Malayalee lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. Members of the LGBT community living outside Kerala will also be coming down to Kochi on this occasion. This would be the 5th LGBT Pride March happening in Kerala. The march is being organized by the Queer Pride Keralam Group, which includes Queerala (a support group for the LGBT community, their friends and family) and Sahayathrika (a human rights organization for lesbian and bisexual women in Kerala) and others from the previous pride marches.

pride marchFor the last four pride marches, the venue was in Thrissur, the cultural capital of the state. When asked about the change in venue this year, Jijo Kuriakose (who is a part of the Queerala organization), responded by pointing out that the metro had a large youth support for the LGBT community.

Born into an orthodox Christian family, Jijo knew he was different from his fellow classmates even during his early teenage years. Although terms like gay and homosexual were alien to him, he knew he was attracted to men, the same way his friends were attracted to women. What ensued was many years’ worth of struggle to come to terms with his own identity. During this period, he turned to art as a creative outlet to express his individuality.

When Jijo came out of the closet, many of his friends from college and work stopped contacting him and deleted him from their ‘friend-list’ on social networking sites. It is not unusual for people in Kerala to equate homosexuals with cross-dressers and transsexuals. Jijo recounts that, “There are a few people who have referred to us as anti-social elements for not being part of procreation. Some others have gone to the extent of hating us for not engaging in ‘natural’ acts of sex”.

One of the things he laments about is the fact that the Malayam media generally uses local slangs to refer to homosexuals. It would really help the LGBT community, if the media were to take on initiatives to highlight the plight of the LGBT people. If nothing else, a more accurate depiction of homosexuality would help to clear some of the apprehensions about homosexuals in the minds of many viewers. Jijo goes on to cite Malayalam movies like English and Mumbai Police of recent times and yesteryear films like Rithu and Sancharam which portrayed homosexuals in a more precise manner.

It is heartening to know that there are various online support groups that help young queer individuals when they decide to come out about their sexuality. After the Supreme Court verdict regarding Article 377 last December, Jijo and his friends have been holding workshops and interacting with people in various campuses around Kerala. They have also organized support group meetings in which various professionals and human rights organisations have also participated.

In the run up to the pride march, the Queer Pride Keralam Group are conducting a string of promotional events to grab the attention of the public. The 1st promotional activity for this year’s pride march was the ‘Free Hugs campaign in support of LGBT,’ that took place on the 8th of June at Marine Drive. This was a campaign inspired from the Malayalam movie ‘Bangalore Days’ and was organized in association with the online group ‘Against Ignorance’. The campaign, in Jijo’s words, was aimed to spread the message that a hug costs nothing, and that love is beyond any gender and laws. The organizers aim to hold two more promotional activities before the 26th of July; a gay-themed movie screening and making graffiti art in Fort Kochi.

Through it all, Jijo remains hopeful that Keralites will stop judging the homosexual minority on the basis of their sexual behaviour and accept them as individuals first; highlighting that it is more of genetics at work than a ‘choice’. He is optimistic that the these activities will go a long way in curbing the incidents of bullying in colleges and work place, and that the LGBT community will gain state and legal acceptance and maybe, even the right to enter into civil partnerships one day. Let us hope that the diverse population of Kochi will move on to think progressively on the matter and accept the existence of the LGBT community in Kerala.

Post the pride event, Queerala aims to conduct year-long awareness programs and setting up a Queer resource centre (including a queer library) to bring political, societal and media attention for the cause.

You must be to comment.
  1. Vishwas Agrawal

    Hey friends!
    The Humsafar Trust, Mumbai started this online petition so that it can be submitted to our PM Narendra Modi to amend Section 377.
    SIGN this petition and share it in your timeline please.
    http://chn.ge/1o5Xl22
    You can appeal people to read this small article that how even straights get affected by non-acceptance of gays.
    http://www.youthkiawaaz.com/2014/07/non-acceptance-gays-affects-straight-people/

  2. muft

    I’m from Kerala & every word written in the article is true. I think that the issue is this huge wall prejudice that us, the Malayali community has, due to our blind faith that we’re unconditionally ‘literate’, politically opinionated & know ‘everything’. We just ‘DON’T’ talk about it, NEVER ,EVER, let alone accepting. My mother works at the most reputed govt hospital in Kerala, & I have heard ‘doctors’ saying that ‘we can cure it, just bring him here’, every time when someone try to come out. When we come across the topic & I criticize reinforcement of Section 377, they wryly ask ‘Aw! You seems so concerned, are you one of them” ? and right after that, these ‘moral gurus’ sympathize to violation of human rights of people & animals across the globe, except to the very ones around them.
    I’m honestly clueless how to make my community aware that homosexuality is just ‘different’ & not an ‘issue’.
    Just hoping that all those people who participate in the walk get home safe.

More from Anju Anna John

Similar Posts

By Silca

By Sonal Prasad

By Rohit Malik

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below