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7 Must-Read Authors Who’re Bringing The Love And Support For LGBTQ Young Adults

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With the Supreme Court of India declaring that it is going to re-examine Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, which criminalises same-sex relationships, it has become more important than ever to bring the issues of the LGBTQ community to the mainstream. And what better way is there to foster empathy than through films and books. Here is a list of writers, who are not just strong legitimate voices for the LGBTQ community, but also role models for many young people who might feel alienated. And they have been slowly making a mark in the ‘Young Adult’ (YA) corner of the publishing industry.

Harish Iyer

A writer and a LGBTQ activist, Harish Iyer was also one of the most vocal opponents of the recriminalisation of homosexuality in India. He has engaged in several awareness campaigns about the impact of the decision, and condemned the ruling via media advocacy. He has written articles and letters on the subject and appeared on top national television news shows to highlight the plight of the LGBTQ community in India in wake of the decision. Iyer was also named as one of the most influential gay men in the world by The Guardian in 2013. He is the author of a collection of short stories, “I’m Coming Out“, where he interviews famous Indian personalities like Pallav Patankar, Praful Baweja, Aruna Desai and Sonal Giani about their coming out stories. These inspirational accounts highlight their struggles and achievements and try to explore what it means to be gay in India. You can read his book here.

Find him on Twitter @hiyer 

David Levithan

One of the far more well-known names in the YA genre, David Levithan’s first book “Boy Meets Boy  was published in 2003. The book follows the standard romantic trope of “boy meets girl”, except here, both protagonists are boys living in a Utopian world where queerness is openly accepted. Levithan has co-written “Will Grayson, Will Grayson with another popular author, John Green. He also deals with gender fluidity in his book “Every You, Every Me”.

Find him on Twitter @loversdiction

Julie anne peters

Julie Anne Peters

Her 2004 book “Luna is a sensitive and brilliant portrayal of a transgender teen’s struggle for acceptance. And her book “Between Mom and Jo is about a teenage boy growing up with two mothers, who separate due to their differences.

Find her on Twitter @julieannepeters


Adam Silvera

Adam Silvera

Silvera made his debut with his book “More Happy Than Not in 2015. The book revolves around sixteen-year-old Aaron Soto who is dealing with a family tragedy and finds solace in a new friend, Thomas. The book addresses bisexuality, depression, and grief. Following “More Happy Than Not“, Silvera published two books in 2017: “History Is All You Left Me” and “They Both Die at the End“. His latest book “What If It’s Us has been co-written with another YA author Becky Albertalli (the author of “Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens“.

Find him on Twitter @AdamSilvera

 

Anne Marie Mclemore

Anna-Marie McLemore

McLemore made her debut in 2015 with her book “The Weight of Feathers. Although her first book was not centred on LGBTQ characters, it did establish her as a YA author with a flair for magical realism. Her second book “When the Moon Was Ours deals with queer identity and non-traditional families.

Find her on Twitter @LaAnnaMarie

Shyma Selvadurai

Shyam Selvadurai

Selvadurai is from Sri Lanka and lives in Canada. He has written four books, out of which “Swimming in the Monsoon Sea” is a young adult novel. Set in 1980s Sri Lanka, the book revolves around fourteen-year-old Amrith whose orderly cheerful world topples over when his Canadian cousin comes visiting. Vying for his attention, Amrith fights with jealousy as he discovers that the girls in his town are also head over heels with his cousin.

Aniruddha Mahale

Aniruddha Mahale 

A former TEDx speaker, Aniruddha Mahale is a published columnist living in Mumbai. He was featured on the Facebook page of Humans of Bombay on which he shared his story –

“I knew when I was 16 and I was sure of it when I was around 20. I told my sisters, cousins and important friends first, and I’m very open about it as well, but the final act only happens once you tell your parents — which I haven’t yet. Speaking with you now, I realise that this is just something I have to do…I don’t want to go through my life buried with a secret. So now that I’m doing this, I know I have a timeline and I have to tell them before your post comes out…so I’m going to do it tonight.”

“What are you going to tell them?

“That I bumped into Humans of Bombay, they asked me about my life and I told them I’m gay, but I’m still your son and I love you just as much.” 

His book “Love Therapy” is about a mother who finds out that her son is gay. She decides to take matters in her own hands and ‘cure’ him of his homosexuality before he leaves for his MBA. You can read his book here.

This is a list of 7 LGBTQ Young Adult writers who we believe you should know about. Do you know more who you would want to add to this list? Tell us about them!

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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 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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