ITANAGAR- LGBTQ+ pride month is commemorated each year in June. June of 2022 marks the 52nd celebration of gay pride month. It is observed to honour the LGBTQ+ pride and pays homage to the 1969 Stonewall uprising in Manhattan.
On the 19th of June 2022, a one-day sensitization programme on LGBTQIAP+ issues with a theme of “understanding the LGBTQ+ community from a psycho-social lens” was organised by the AP queer station in collaboration with a psycho-social support group, Arunachal Pradesh under the aegis of All Arunachal Pradesh Psychological Association (AAPPA) and in association with Women Helpline-181 run by Oju Welfare Association (OWA) at the OWA campus. OWA, an NGO which beliefs in service to humanity also celebrated gay pride month and gave voice to gender diversity and promote equality, acceptance and harmony among communities.
Initially, the programme began with a welcome address by Mrs Ratan Anya, Chairperson of OWA, as she spoke that such a sensitization programme on LGBTQ+ has been conducted for the first time at OWA. She added that the LGBTQ+ community has always faced challenges and issues daily and our unit of OWA like Women Helpine-181 has also received many cases of LGBTQ.
The Supreme Court of India in its landmark judgement in 2018 has removed section 377 of the Indian penal code ruling that Section 377 is unconstitutional as it infringed on the fundamental rights of the LGBTQ community thus legalising homosexuality in India. Thus, the verdict was hailed as a landmark decision for LGBT rights in India and the victory of love.
The Government of India has also introduced GARIMA Scheme (Short stay home) for the LGBTQ+ and many major cities of India have also started accepting the gay community. But in AP, there are still many issues with the acceptance, as she encouraged the LGBTQ community shouldn’t be depressed about it and to accept their god-gifted body.
In conclusion, she promised that OWA will provide aid, assurance and shelter of 10 bedded hall with an attached kitchen and bathroom to the LGBTQ+ community starting today and also requested the police teams to give those equal rights and safe space in the society.
She ended up by explaining that the Indian constitution Article 15 ensures no person is discriminated against based on caste, gender and creed and Article 21 marks the right of life and liberty to all the citizens of the country and the LGBTQ+ community are also one of us; hence they should be given all rights and freedom of speech.
Highlighting the relevance of the day, the founder of AP Queer Station Sawang Wangchha (He/Him) talked about the ‘”Gender & sexuality and the significance of pronouns”. He spoke about the sensitive community of LGBTQ+ persons in A.P and how the issue is still very critical and complex as the society of A.P is still not open to starting a conversation about the LGBTQ+ terms and issues.
Many LGBTQ+ children & adults haven’t opened up about their identity to the society because of many factors like fear, hatred, loneliness, and suicidal thoughts and are mostly misunderstood by the society. As he recited his story of coming out as a gay person to his family and friends and how he gained confidence with time but in the process, he even lost many of his relations and equations.
At the end of his speech, he ended with a phrase saying, “I am a gay person and I prefer men, and I grew up playing both cars and barbies, and I am proud of my identity as this is the gift the God has gifted to me”.
Followed with the session, an experience of LGBTQ+ community representative members was shared. T.R Lending (He/Him) native of Ziro district, narrated his story that since his childhood days, he never liked the dress and felt good wearing his elder brother’s clothes. His story of identity confusion was hidden inside him for 14 years because he was afraid of judgement, insult & criticism from society.
Member of LGBTQ+, Lo Nalo (He/Him) a believer of Christ shared that he used to cry every day and question god about his identity. Soon with his mother’s love, support and acceptance, he earned confidence and today he is a proud Tran’s man. He added that the LGBTQ+ community already faces many obstacles in every area of life, and we want a stress-free life. Another member, Amann Ronya (He/Him) narrated his story and said he hated the school uniform and because of that, his childhood days went with no school days leading to bad marks in exams. As society always questions his motive and identity at the time.
Emphasizing the day, Chief Guest Jimmy Chiram, SP capital Complex, spoke that attending such an encouraging event sensitises society to talk and discuss these scenarios. He added In general in life, everyone goes through such struggles and we should speak about it constructively. We all are the part & mover of society. Society and people change with experience and how we internalised it and how we change as the routine.
The idea of LGBTQ is very new in our society and we are moving late in discussions of their legal rights. We must make everyone understand sensitively and have pride in ourselves as a right and good human beings, he adds. First and foremost, the biggest identity we have as a human being and we have to think of the next person as a human being and treat them as a human being and how we want to be treated; identity is very fluid and at the time be as good as possible is my mantra of life.
The struggle that LGBTQ has faced is reflective of the society and later on future generations must not face it and we must change with time. I hope with this initiative as a whole in future we will change. He concluded by saying more and more awareness about the LGBTQ should be in the society and people should change with compassion and humanity.
Followed with the session by Koj Rinya (She/Her), psychologist, PhD scholar and general secretary of AAPPA, on “mental health issues from an intersectional perspective”, as she accentuated the intersectionality, checking your privileges, listening first and learning, make space and to always watch your language.
The programme ended with a speech by Miss Binny Yachu, Project Manager, WHL-181 as she thanked OWA for the support and encouraged the LGBTQ+ community and assured them of the free space environment and skill development project for the LGBTQ+ community in future respectively.
Demonstrating the day, a short film “gender identity” was showcased to understand the concept of transgender women.