ITANAGAR- The 4th community meetup of AP Queer Station was organised in collaboration with Reader’s Realm Library, Itanagar where more than 45 community members and allies participated to discuss topics revolving around the theme of ‘Self Love’.
In an attempt to encourage the queer community of Arunachal Pradesh to fight for their rights and equality, former Miss Arunachal Tengam Celine Koyu (She/Her) graced the event. She commenced by sharing her personal experience about overcoming negative judgements in the beauty industry which had made her develop body image issues, and requested the participants to be kind as the words can either hurt or heal depending on what we choose to speak.
She also shared her thoughts about the LGBTQ+ movement that is currently taking a grip in the state and shared her ideas about how the movement can be further boosted by chalking out events & meetups in advance for the days to come. Tengam also shared how her father encouraged her to visit for this meetup soon after she educated him about the LGBTQ+ people and their difficulties in society, demonstrating the power of awareness. In addition, she advised the community members to be brave and to be true to themselves. She also assured that she would be a part of LGBTQ+ events in the future.
This was subsequently followed by a speech on the topic ‘Skewed portrayal of Lesbianism in media’ by one of the core members of AP Queer station, Mx. Binny (She/Her/They). She spoke in detail about how the protrayal via films, OTT, print media goes on to objectify and sexualize homosexual women. She expressed how this had only made it difficult to accept herself as a Lesbian in the past. She requested the community members to always revolt against this kind of misrepresentation and generalization in society.
Adding to it, the founder of AP Queer station Sawang Wangchha (He/Him) also shared his views on how incorrect portrayal of LGBTQ+ people by the media has given birth to myths, stigma, taboos and other misinformation that have only harmed the image of the community members to a great extent.
Another core member namely TR Nending (He/Him) who came from Ziro for this particular meetup shared the importance of ‘consent’ in the community. He emphasized on the importance of respect and requested the gathering to not disclose the identity of those queers who are still in the closet and are in the process of figuring a way to come out. He informed that revealing one’s identity without their consent can put one in great danger.
Ritu Raj (He/Him) a PhD scholar from NERIST shared the importance of using pronouns and maintaining an inclusive environment. He advised the participants to practice using correct pronouns of an individual to respect their identity.
Adv Ebo Milli (He/Him), human rights activist & advisory member of AP Queerstation reminded the community members of the importance of solidarity within the community. He advised the community members to always keep up the fight for their rights and equality. The activist shared his journey of learning about the LGBTQ+ people & the depth of their struggles only after he went to Delhi to study as he had never discussed or heard about the queer community in Arunachal before.
Sawang Wangchha (He/Him) informed the participants that the biggest issue the queer community of Arunachal is facing right now is the visibility of their existence and how enforcement of heteronormativity has affected the queer community deeply around the world. While discussing the topic ‘Self Love’ he shared his personal journey of how he started to accept his sexuality and gender expression and advised the community people, especially the young ones to prioritize themselves first and to always keep working on themselves to be a better version of themselves.
The queer activist also spoke on the importance of fighting for LGBTQ+ rights in the State and keeping the momentum of the queer movement that has just begun in Arunachal by constantly participating in all the events and meetups organized by the AP Queerstation. Lastly, on behalf of all the members of AP Queer Station, he concluded the meetup with a vote of thanks, and expressed his gratitude to the guest Tengam Celine Koyu (She/Her) for voluntarily coming to the meetup and for always being supportive of the community.