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What LSR”s “Queerosity” Says About Sexual Identities And Educational Institutions In India

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By Shivani Makkar:

“Look here, dear fellow,
I wear these men’s clothes only for you.
Sometimes I am man,
Sometimes I am woman.”

These are the reflections of the 12th century Shaivite poet, Basavanna, who wrote in Kannada. Our history is replete with such examples that speak of a tradition which was receptive to fluid and open sexual identities. It was not simply a matter of sexual orientation, but went deeper than that; a subconscious self that transcends sexual rigidity altogether, a self that hovers in between a man and a woman.

LGBTQ

In today’s lingo, we might call it being queer. To defy traditional categorization based on gender and sexuality, is what being queer is all about. The term has come to be synonymous with lesbian, gay and transgender, and fundamentally stands for being comfortable in one’s own unique sexual identity.

The one place to eradicate the regressive mindset against LGBTQI community, to provide a platform for healthy discussions on sexuality, and to move towards a society that is not based on segregation, is through educational institutions. Starting from schools itself, sex education must be a fundamental part of the curriculum. The recent, scandalous statements by our Health Minister about banning sex education in the name of preserving traditions and cultural values has been well criticised by all shades of ideological and political spectrum. Let’s be blunt; children are well aware of what sex is. In a globalised, internet-savvy world where all information is a click of the mouse away, pretence seems to be ruling the day. The younger generation pretends they don’t know, and the older one pretends to believe it. A much healthier alternative would be to provide knowledge and awareness- which is always better to have through trusted guides, teachers and parents, rather than shady magazines, porn sites, or ignorant mistakes. Something that creates our very identity, our perception of the world, cannot be suppressed so vehemently; it is bound to explode sooner or later.

Higher educational institutions must take the initiative here, which, luckily, they are doing. Delhi University recently introduced the option of a Third Gender (TG) in their application for post-graduation courses, followed by Jawaharlal Nehru University doing the same in their nomination forms for the JNU student’s union elections. This came after a UGC notification to all universities to identify and accept transgenders, following the Supreme Court ruling in April categorising them as the “third gender”. Lakshminarayan Tripathi, a leading transgender activist, said: “Most Indian universities say they never turn down admission requests from transgender candidates, but their forms did not have an option under the gender choices. We don’t like making that choice. It is important for educational institutions to create space for them and make a start by mentioning ‘others’ or ‘transgender’ in their application forms. This is a great start.”

Apart from the legal and official changes in the system, what is even more important is the efforts of the student community itself in ensuring an atmosphere of open and healthy discussions on matters that have always been seen to belong to the domain of the ‘private’. The launch of ‘Queerosity’, a students’ collective to understand and explore sexuality, by the students of Lady Shri Ram College, is the first of its kind, and sets an example that must be emulated by other institutions throughout the country. The sensitization drive through movies and discussions, that gives an invitation to question the deep rooted norms that make outcastes of certain people based on their personal choices, is what is needed if we are to be truly called a ‘civilised’ people.

What I decide to wear, who I decide to be, whom I decide to love, is my burden, and mine alone. Someone else’s idea of correct behaviour cannot be accepted. It is sometimes necessary to be a renegade, a rebel, a revolutionary, for this is how conflicts emerge, archaic norms are broken down, and a free and emancipated dawn appears, even if it is far off into the future.

In the meantime, let us keep the discussion going.

You must be to comment.
  1. Babar

    Marriage is the union between a man and a woman. Anything else is perversion. Besides, how are homosexuals supposed to have children, and if they adopt, what are they supposed to tell them – You have two daddys, or you have two mommys?

    1. Jagriti

      And when did you get to learn about that definition of marriage? I am sorry, but I thought marriage was about a lot more than just procreation. Also, going by what you’ve to say, people who can’t have children have no rights to get married, right? And, my dear, uninformed friend, a child doesn’t care about the number of mommys and daddys it has till the time it is loved. I thought love was an important factor in marriages. Sorry, I was mistaken.

    2. Babar

      …a child doesn’t care about the number of mommys and daddys it has till the time it is loved.

      No ma’am, children do care.

    3. Fem

      @Babar

      No sir, they don’t.
      You just haven’t come across these set of children.

    4. Babar

      Your comment is based on emotion, not reason.

    5. Fem

      So if your comment is based on reasons, care to share them with us?

      Also please share the logic behind these ‘reasons’ of yours. And please for a change, do not pull out stats from air.

    6. Fem

      “Anything else is perversion”

      Response – Its your opinion. Not a fact.

      “Besides, how are homosexuals supposed to have children”

      Response – Not everyone is required to have children. The planet is splitting at seams due to population growth. It would thank humankind to produce less babies. Besides adoption would help a child get a home.

      “If they adopt, what are they supposed to tell them – You have two daddys, or you have two mommys”

      Response – Exactly! That’s what would be told to them. Children would understand and be completely at ease because what they would value more is the love they are getting. Their primary need. Conforming to your value system and mentality is not their concern. And frankly the world would be a better place if we have less number of people who would agree to your opinions.

    7. Babar

      The truth is, love can be free of perversion. God has designed men and women to complete each other, and through marriage, they fulfill each other emotionally and sexually, while also providing a perfect balance for their children. Homosexuals can neither enjoy family life nor can they have a normal sex life. Gay men trying to have anal sex is abhorrent as best, for obvious reasons, while I don’t even know how lesbians fulfill their sexual desire.

    8. Babar

      Children would understand and be completely at ease because what they would value more is the love they are getting.

      They will value the love they are getting without a shadow of a doubt, but to state that they will be at ease is not being rational.

    9. Buli

      What does it matter? Two people are perfectly happy with each other and love each other who are we to say anything about them… Live and let live…. Mind your own business…. The world is already full of hatred… What harm does it make to spread a bit of love….

    10. Babar

      I am not spreading hatred, only putting a couple of points forward. I am sure I am entitled to my opinion, just as everyone else.

      Yet again, two people confined in one home cannot be called a married couple until and unless they are of the opposite sex.

    11. Fem

      You call their love ‘perversion’ and then claim you are not spreading hatred?

    12. Babar

      Fem, I am not calling their love perversion. I am calling sex between homosexuals perversion.

    13. Fem

      Baber – There is love behind sex. Same way it happens for heterosexuals. Why do you assume they don’t love each other?

    14. Babar

      Love and sex are two different things. Two people of the same sex can fall in love, but the fact remains that homosexual sex is perverted.

    15. Fem

      Oh is that so? Thanks for letting me know. This simple logic eluded me till now. Now that I know it,…. Yes! Perversion!

    16. Aravind Get

      If getting pleasure is problem here, recent studies showed that lesbian couples are experiencing more pleasure than with a man and for gay research is on how to stimulate prostate gland. Everybody missed one thing Zoophilia (having sex with animals and is against law in many countries) we Indians having long history on that. So please don’t insist in the name of tradition, and culture it also has the same story.

    17. Babar

      Anal sex is not normal. The anus is not designed for penile penetration.

    18. akshita prasad

      Well, you say that marriage is the union between a man and a woman, but who defined marriage? Some sorta ultimate power? Or we people? It’s us who have such notions. Marriage isn’t about a man or a woman, it’s about love, and if two people love each other, no matter their gender, they can get married.

    19. Fem

      No sir, they don’t.
      You just haven’t come across these set of children.

  2. Gaurav

    When would we start living our life on our own terms and let others live their life the way they want to live. Disrespecting transgenders just because they can’t reproduce or can’t have so-called normal sexual life is not humanity. After all, even science has proved that sexual orientation is because of the hormonal structure inside the body. Even, straight people in today’s generation do not want to have children, what about them? So, live and let live others.

    1. Babar

      I believe in live and let live, and do not disrespect a person because of their sexual orientation. My only point is that it is not natural to ‘marry’ someone of your own sex. You can live with someone you love, even if they are of the same sex, but it can’t be called marriage.

    2. Fem

      The moment you say what the other is doing is not ‘natural’ based on your own set of logic, you are disrespecting them by looking down on their choices/way of living.

      It can be called marriage the moment it gets legal sanction. High time it should.

    3. Babar

      I am not looking down at anyone’s choice. All I am saying is that the union between two people of the same sex cannot be called marriage.

  3. Templetwins

    In the current set of toxic climate, I wouldn’t suggest any man to get married, because of the financial obligation he has over his wife which is legally enforced. But the idea of marriage is so sacred for the traditional conservatives (tradcons) that’s why they push men into marriage even if it had become toxic. Now when same sex couples want to get married, it irks them because they are spoiling their idea of sacredness. So is there a way for us to come into a middle ground. Marriage does give the couples some tax benefits, medical benefits etc.

    Can we call the same sex marriage something else? Gayunion or something and give them all the benefits of the marriage? In that way you get what you want and them tradcons are happy too?

  4. Aravind Get

    Society never helped and tradition not even tried, then why should i follow the tradition and hearing advice from society.

  5. Mysterious

    Sex between homosexuals is percersion?
    Asshole is not designed for Penetration?
    Sure no heterosexual couple ever has anal or oral sex . You are oh so dumb.
    -.-
    And yeah please however the sex between homosexuals is you are not allowed to whine about it unless they use your bedroom to have sex or demand to have sex with you.
    Please get out of other people’s bedrooms. You are not even aware of what sex is what marriage is and what love is.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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