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From The Mists Of Confusion To Being Happy And Gay: How I Embraced My Sexuality

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Written Anonymously:

I was 17 years old when I fell in love for the first time.

I, a girl who didn’t know why there were so many obvious differences between my “boy” friends and my “girl” friends.

I, a daughter to a heterosexual couple who were my biological mother and father.

I, an “assumed to be” cisgender heterosexual individual.

When my classmate told me she liked me and wanted to date me, I didn’t know how to react. Truth be told, someone who was 17 years old and was always looking for more in this world (read: me) was flattered that someone of the same sex had a high school crush. But I took that crush very seriously, because it made me think of only one question time and again: “Am I attracted to her as well?”

Long story short, I didn’t quite respond with a “Jai Mata Di let’s rock!” to her proposal but I told myself that I might as well give this a shot because the John Green inside me knew that my mind and heart wanted to be with her. And poof! The next day I woke up to a new me, a new life, a new experience of exploring my sexuality with someone who loved me and made me feel safe around her. I woke up to a bisexual me, and I have never looked back.

When I was negotiating my way through life, asking myself a lot of questions about who I was, who I loved, who I was attracted to, I knew the answers to these curious doubts would go a long way in bringing clarity to a bisexual mind in a heterosexual world. It took me a while to accept who I was and to love myself regardless of what certain people said or did to me. I had a supportive group of friends (half of whom are also gay, hahaha!), an understanding partner and a lot of Internet resources at my disposal, all of which helped me establish an identity which then consequently also became the most important element of my self. I couldn’t just ignore or suppress who I was physically attracted to or who I wanted to form a romantic alliance with, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

All of this took three long years, and that is when I decided to take it ahead and be a part of the politics that surrounded me, and people like me. Fast forward to November 13, 2017, my first ever Delhi Queer Pride Parade. I was in attendance not because someone had asked me to come but because I wanted to be there. I wanted to be a part of a public gathering where there were no boundaries, no limits as to how you can express your love and to whom.

Delhi was the first Pride Parade I had gone to, and I still consider it to be one of the most genuine and precious memories I have. I didn’t go there with a partner, but I guess you don’t need to have someone to feel loved in a gathering of hundreds of people who are looking for love just like you are, and who are unapologetic about who they want and what their expression of love means to them.

Throughout the Parade, I danced, I sang songs, I blew the colourful plastic whistles that the DQP organisers were handing out to all of us, and I looked around to find nothing but happiness and solace on everyone’s beautiful faces, as if they were walking down a path of liberation. I don’t think that is something that should be a luxury for all of us, but rather a necessity that should be fulfilled by the society we live in. Instead of saying that the DQP is progress towards a more open, liberal view of individuals and their sexuality, I wish for a day when every walk that I take with my partner in the public eye is celebrated with a humble smile, if not flags of love and celebration.

I was never the kind of person who would engage in politics. Even with my parents often discussing it while we were at the dinner table, I didn’t think of it as something that affects my life because, well, I think I just wanted to stay away from the Congress or the BJP. With the realization that personal is political and my life choices are in fact directly affected and often curbed by the people who are in power around me (not necessarily only the government), I took the help of friends who are close to me who know more about the political as well as historical significance of the LGBTQIA+ community, the gay rights movement(s), and the legal as well as psychosocial implications of living a life as someone who does not identify merely as a heterosexual individual.

I wouldn’t ask for you to jump into something as complex and pertinent as the politics of who we are and where we are as a community or even as individuals, because it took me years to reach a point in my life where I am personally invested in the movement, but I would urge everyone, from straight allies to LGBTQIA+ individuals to be aware, engage in debates and discussion that affect your life choices, and to celebrate love for what it is: love. Pride for me would always mean pride in myself, of who I am as a person and how far I have come from the mists of confusion and uncertainty and anxiety when I didn’t know if what I was feeling was ‘okay’. Safe to say, I’ve never felt more happy and gay in my life!

Anonymous is a 21-year-old feminist who is negotiating her way through the politics of who she is and who she loves. She can fortunately love dogs and cats without any brows being raised. She writes, dances, reads and wishes to change the definition of love through her academic career in psychology.

In celebration of Pride Month, The YP Foundation is running an online campaign to spark conversations around issues specific to queer youth and their engagement in queer politics, through narrative pieces, articles, essays, comic strips, artworks, and personal interviews. Through these, the campaign seeks to explore the importance of the queer movement in India and the intricacies of queer organising. it also looks at the different ways in which the queer movement in India is forging alliances with other movements, through the active engagement and involvement of young queer people. This campaign is a part of a larger international campaign hosted by CHOICE for Youth and Sexuality.

To submit your stories, poems, articles and artwork, send them to info@theypfoundation.org by June 20, 2018.

Featured image source: Sonam Prajapati/Pixabay.
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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.

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.

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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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