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

A Letter To My Younger Self: Being Queer Is Not Always About Rainbows And Glossy Unicorns

More from The YP Foundation

By Saransh Heilige:

Dear Saransh,

I know that by this time, you would have returned from your morning jog. Today will be a special day for you. You’ve finally turned 18 and are invigorated with an ever-flowing philanthropic spirit.

I write not in the hopes of swaying any of your future decisions. I am in a happy place now and wouldn’t wish you to take an alternate route at all. You might already be thinking of all the possible courses of action you could take in the coming time. While not all of your wishes will come to fruition, hereon, you won’t regret any step you take, either.

I am also aware that up till now, you haven’t explored your sexuality much. The idea of being physically intimate with someone makes you cringe. But do not worry, young Saransh. Your sexual quest will begin soon enough. Till now, you might have felt confused and bewildered about your feelings towards people of the same sex – especially your best friend. A warning – you are going to get hurt soon. And that is alright, young Saransh, as a kindred spirit awaits you. You will soon fall in and out of love, perhaps multiple times – but don’t lose hope. Love is a beautiful feeling and the wounds heal in no time, you will realise.  The most crucial lesson that I have learnt so far is that no matter what you might have to deal with, never stop loving yourself.

When you reach my age, you will transform. You will start taking pride in your queerness. You still have the option to live in denial like many queer people do, but letting go of denial would make you feel integrated – I can assure you that much. I do understand that it is quite tough to be openly queer when your parents are orthodox and have rigid mentalities. But well, with time, you will learn to care less. I still don’t know if it is wise or not, but being distanced from them might give you the space you have always desired.

But dear young Saransh, being queer is not always about gleaming rainbows and glossy unicorns. With time, you will realise that being queer also entails constantly questioning what’s considered ‘normal’ and why that norm gets privileged over other ways of being. You will be involved in life-altering discussions on addressing and understanding the intersectionality between race, gender, sexuality, caste and class – and how it affects each person’s experience and identity differently. This will equally benefit and enrich your understanding of queerness.

I hope you do remember that last year, you were in the pits of depression. That year, you realised the importance of dissent. That year, you finally took over your life and made some crucial decisions for yourself. This minute act of defiance has ignited the rebel spirit within you. In the years to come, you will be directly confront patriarchy and toxic masculinity. Even though this fight is ever-exhausting, don’t give up. You will learn to fight for your own rights. You will begin to question your privileges too.

Alongside this turmoil, there may be times when you will feel lonely and melancholic. If I am being honest, let me tell you – it’s not going to be easy to be queer. You will have to deal with certain mental health issues owing to the negative prejudices prevalent in our society. You will wish to either end your despairing life or renounce the world altogether. But you know what? For every dark night, there will always be a brighter day. You will outshine these hard times. You will be respected and loved. Your life will unfold in richer and happier ways, more than you have ever dared to hope.

In parting, even though I have evolved for the better, I still admire you. Your innocence and optimism defines you. In times to come, perhaps, people will adore you for that.

I hope you continue to strive for a world where everyone feels safe and accepted.

All the best,

With love,

Your much older self.

Saransh Heilige is a cis-gender queer person. He is currently pursuing his Masters in Psychology from Ambedkar University, Delhi. He aspires to work with queer individuals, later in his life, as a psychologist.


Featured image used for representative purposes only.

You must be to comment.

More from The YP Foundation

Similar Posts

By India Fellow Social Leadership Program

By It's Ok To Talk

By Aqsa Shaikh

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, 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.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below