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Aunty, Gay Or Straight Hota Kya Hai?

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By Auntyji Thursday:

Hi Auntyji. At school, my friends were talking about being gay and straight. What do these terms mean and is one better than the other? Sanya,15, Chandigarh.

Auntyji says, ‘Chalo chalo very good – these words are a part of our new vocabulary beta, like any other, we all have to learn it, embrace it.’

Termed right

So let’s begin ki straight or gay hota kya hai. But let’s start with the wider terminology –  LGBT. L for lesbian – women attracted to women, G or gay – a term used for men attracted to men but is also used commonly as a term for all homosexual people – men or women.

Now you will ask what is homosexual? Well, people attracted to the same sex hence (homo = same= one). The others are called heterosexual – attracted to differing sex. It is also called straight. Chalo ji – very plainly and simply put.

Ab B (in LGBT) stands for bisexual – people attracted to men and women. Ab T stands for Transgender – and here begins a lot of layers.

Transgender is a gender identity for a person who does not identify with the gender that was assigned to them at birth. Roughly said, you could be a girl but you feel like a boy. Sach kahoon beta, this is not as easy as it seems. It is in fact very complex, very nuanced. So I will urge you to read up a lot on this issue. Start right here, on our website.

RSVP – only you

Beta – the thing to remember is that there is no wrong or a right or a better or a worse identity. However, unfortunately, LGBT identities are termed abnormal and unnatural in many cultures and societies, including ours. And so many LGBT people are forced into hiding.

Think of it like this beta. You eat palak paneer and I force you to eat tinda masala. It is your choice to say – no thanks – is it not? Now comes the big problem – the public is annoying. They want everyone to eat tinda masala! Is that possible? No, it’s not.

Even those who love tinda masala – cannot eat it four meals a day.  They too at times look for – palak paneer! Kabhi kabhihain na? Bas like that – no one should tell us who to love, who to have sex with. No one has a right over our body, our desires. Only we do.

Discrimination at large

But zaalim duniya, most LGBT people are unable to exercise rights over their bodies and desires. You will be shocked beta – at the amount of stereotyping and discrimination that people have for people who are not ‘straight’ i.e the usual – boy loves a girl.  Everyone must do the same! So if a boy loves a boy or a girl loves a girl – duniya gets upset!

If a person is not ‘straight,’ the world is up in arms about sanskriti and culture being at threat! Homophobia – prejudice and hatred for homosexual people – is a rampant reality for many people in our country – in our homes – in this world. Even the law makes it difficult for the LGBT people to come out and express themselves freely.

Love to love you, baby

So let’s say beta Sanya, you love a boy, but your best (girl) friend loves a girl – you both love – so is your love better than her love? You want care and concern, safety and trust form your partner – she wants the same. Bas, you want it from a boy and she wants it from a girl. Is she lesser than you? Nahi na?

Auntyji’s funda is simple beta. It ultimately does not matter what others think. It matters who you are and who you think you are and what you feel about yourself.  No one should stick anyone under a label or pack them in a box. Everyone has the right to say who they are, who they want to love, what type of sex they decide to have, with who and where… Bas pyaar do, pyaar lo. Kya bolti tu beta, Sanya?

*To protect the identity, names have been changed and the person/s in the picture is/are models.

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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.

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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.

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Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
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