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

Why I Began A Magazine For Asexual People To Express Themselves

As “a space for ace creators,” The Asexual is an online and print journal for writers and artists under the ace umbrella that I founded by myself on October 5th, 2016. I originally created The Asexual with the intention of addressing the evident absence of a dedicated space for publishing and promoting ace voices as well as to amplify underrepresented groups within the ace community itself. Although I was knowledgeable of various online spaces advocating for the visibility of ace people and for improving education on ace experiences and issues, such as the Asexual Visibility and Education Network (AVEN), I was unaware of any platform online that was dedicated to publishing the art, writing, and general creations of ace people on a regular and continuous basis. I wanted to read our words and hear our voices as ace people, and I was growing exasperated by the constant invisibility of our narratives and perspectives everywhere.

Hence, with my limited experience, I constructed The Asexual from a blank webpage to a quarterly journal and website centering ace narratives, perspectives, and activism within the time span of about six months before the first issue of The Asexual journal was published on March 31st, 2017. While initially it was a challenge to garner enough submissions to produce a finished issue, through promotion of the space on Twitter, I gradually cultivated a following. Apart from promotion, some of my discussion threads on Twitter regarding asexuality also began to attract increased attention to my personal account (@Michael_Paramo), which simultaneously helped boost awareness of the journal. I have now edited and designed three complete issues, online and in print, that have collectively included essays, poetry, and artwork by ace writers and artists from Hungary, India, Pakistan, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

The Asexual has been a solitary project for myself since its inception and continues to remain as such. I currently manage every facet of the space, serving as its lead editor, layout editor, writer, and social media manager, which very much makes it an independent space. At several moments throughout the last year, I have considered publishing my writing on asexuality via larger established platforms, even those dedicated to queer voices, but I have realized that ace experiences can often be tokenized and remain at a surface-level dialogue on these sites. There is rarely, if ever, an editor or writer who identifies as asexual or ace on the writing teams of these sites, and that is a problem. Online publications by and for ace people may transcend these issues, and that is one of the central objectives I hope to address with The Asexual, to be a space that takes the conversation on asexuality further through centering ace writers and artists.

In doing so, I have remained conscious of the gravity of centering voices that are marginalized and invisibilized within the ace community, such as focalizing the narratives and perspectives of ace people of color. In fact, the upcoming issue of The Asexual journal is set on the theme of examining the intersections of asexuality and race, and is planning to publish a complete issue that centers writing and artwork by ace people of color in February 2018. I initially proposed this theme with the explicit intention of addressing the lack of representation and visibility of ace people of color in the ace community as well as to simultaneously emphasize how white ace people largely dominate ace spaces (I have written on why this may be the case before). I believe that it remains imperative to always prioritize those voices who are the most invisible, and I will continue to do so for as long as I manage The Asexual.

In the future, this space for ace creators will continue to focus on intersections that remain silenced or relatively unexplored in the current conversation surrounding asexuality, while also continuing to remain a space for all ace people to express themselves creatively. More specifically, I hope to add a special yearly issue soon that focuses on a very specific intersection in the ace community that is heavily under-discussed, and acquire submissions for it throughout any given year with the end goal of producing a collection of work on this intersection. In general, I plan to carry on managing The Asexual journal and website for the foreseeable future. Although it may feel like an immense undertaking at times, I ultimately enjoy every aspect of the work I am doing.

If you’re interested in The Asexual journal, you can read the latest issue here. If you’re interested in contributing, check out the submission guidelines here.

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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.

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.

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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, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’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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