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‘My Sexuality Is Not A Disgrace’: A Young Man Comes Out In An Inspiring Facebook Post

By Himanshu Singh:

Editor’s Note: Commemorated especially in the United States, October 11 is annually observed as National Coming Out Day. This can refer to coming out as one of the several gender and sexual identities that are not heteronormative or even coming out as an ally to the LGBTQ community. Long seen as a step to (re)claim a space for oneself in a world that chooses to ignore, overlook or overpower alternate gender and sexual identities, “coming out of the closet” is a very important step for queer identities to take shape, claim rights and most importantly, to live without fear.

In the following Facebook post, Himanshu Singh, a young man based in Mumbai, comes out as gay and proudly owns his sexuality. Questioning long-held assumptions with a tinge of hope and a determination to never give up, Himanshu proudly takes a page out of his life to make the world a less fearful place to live in, for any closeted queer person. At a time when Section 377 is still law and discrimination is rampant, Himanshu’s post is a ray of positivity and faith in a world of bluster and bigotry.

[su_box title=” ” box_color=”#c6cec9″ radius=”0″]While I am changing the history here, it is my sincere request to share this message to give courage to those who are still living in shadows. Please do not hesitate in sharing. If you hesitate, I lose. We lose!

The one thing that I learned from [the] Harry Potter saga is that nobody should ever live in a closet. Tetris taught me that when you try to ‘fit’ in, you will disappear.

I am much more than my sexuality. My close friends would know me as a writer. Childhood friends would know me as a painter. IIM-K friends would know me as a pathetic actor and as an amateur photographer. I am an ambitious soul who yearn[s] to learn. I aspire to become a great pianist someday. How does my sexuality define me as an individual? But it is certainly one of the most fundamental part[s] of my being. My sexuality is not a phase, it never was. It is not a disease, it is not a mental disability, it is not a choice, and definitely not a disgrace. I was born this way. I realised it when I was 14. It is so saddening to say that I had to strive for normalcy to be in societal norms all these years. It smothered me for quite a long time. Why do people advice to tell it to only those who matter? Why it has to be hushed and shushed?

People reading this post would ask – does it matter to anyone? Why do I need to shout the truth aloud? Does it change anything? Probably! If I lose friends, family and my loved ones over this, it is important to me. If this post could give courage to others, this is important to them. I don’t expect support as much as I expect respect as a human being.

There are so many people out there who are still struggling to come out. I just want to give a message that you are not alone and I am with you. Somehow the below lines inspired me to come out:

“We don’t have to be ordinary, Make your best mistakes,
‘Cause we don’t have the time to be sorry, be the life of the party!
I’m telling you to take your shot it might be scary, Hearts are gonna break,
But we don’t have the time to be sorry, so baby be the life of the party!”

Right now my brain is going [at] 2 million miles per hour. From internal turmoil to acceptance. Describing them in words is not easy. This is the strongest decision of my life. My hands are little cold but the heart is confident. A new man is born today. Life will never be the same from now on. And I am going to love it anyway.

Not everyone was privileged enough to be a Mathew’s (my Humanities teacher in IIM-K) student. Do not make wrong assumptions [and] notions. Have an educated view. Ask honest questions. Respect individuality.

REMEMBER – Your assumptions, lack of knowledge, ignorance and phobias are killing your closeted friends. Everyday!

I am so grateful to my parents, my brother, close friends and flatmates who supported me immensely on this.

Special Note: Dear LGBTQ fellows, if you are facing any kind of challenge or need any guidance, please feel free to reach out to me. Call me (+91-8447798932) or email me (himanshu.singh087@gmail.com), if you think that I may be of some help. You have got only one life. Live it well. Play it well. Don’t be afraid of anything or anyone.

For those who are still wondering on the subject, start your basics here – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homosexuality

*Mic dropped!* …Anyone up for a drink? [/su_box]

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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.

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.

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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.

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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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.

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