Since the past many years, I have been associated with many charitable organisations. And yes, wherever I go, I carry my identity of being gay with me. Because it is not two different people, my gay identity is a part of me. I am an animal welfare crusader, a women’s rights activist, a child rights activist, also a men’s rights activist and sometimes an environmentalist. I christened the term “equal rights activist” for myself when I found it really hard to confine myself to one category especially when journalists asked me ‘what do I call you’. I am not writing this to bask in the glory of my achievements alone. Of course, I am not modest about my achievements for myself and people and animals I love. This post is not about me, it is about the secret santas with rainbow caps who little by little change the world for all.
A photo posted by Harish Iyer (@iyerharish) on Dec 23, 2016 at 10:22pm PST
Let me introduce you to some who don’t wait for Christmas to play Santa but are Santa all the way.
Santa Robin Chaurasiya:
Robin Chaurasiya is a lesbian who was a part of the US military Air Force, until she refused to stay quiet about her sexuality. I believe we bring our whole selves to work. Gay is not detachable. It is not that you can leave your gay back home while you carry your mind and body to work. She was thrown out of the military, and US’s loss is India’s gain. This indore girl, came back to India to set up Kranti, a non profit for empowerment of girls in the redlight area of Mumbai, Kamathipura.
“I don’t think there is any reason for these girls to limit their dreams. They should never stop dreaming, and they should never stop believing in their dreams. And the onus is on us, as a society, to ensure that they achieve those dreams,” says Chaurasiya.
She is someone who walks the talk. Her girls have got more stamps on their passport than many others amongst us. Some are learning psychology, some are learning drums… and all have learnt to become truer and truer to their real selves with every passing day.
Santa Dhruv Ambegaonkar:
A doctor by profession, Dhruv is your sassy young gay boy from Santacruz. He is not your average Doctor. He has piercings in possibly every visible part of his body. He is trendy in his clothes and is attractive enough that people will fall ill just to go to him for an injection.
That said, there is another side to him that not many know of. He, along with his family, fosters children until they get adopted.
“My family has been fostering newborn children who have been abandoned or put up for adoption by their mothers until they are adopted by a new family. We have 2 children with us currently. A 2-month-old boy and a 6 week old girl. Both are the cutest and so funny. It is a tough job, because it’s impossible not to get attached to the kids. I still miss the kids who have left us. It’s a heartache which never goes away. Because you know they are living happily with a new family and with no idea of who you are and how much you loved them,” says Ambegaonkar.
A photo posted by Dhruv (@ambezing) on Feb 13, 2016 at 7:17am PST
Santa Anand Pendharkar:
Anand Pendharkar used to operate with an alias at one time. I still remember, we had also planned to date. Somehow, we ended up becoming good friends instead. Anand is an environmentalist and he runs an organisation called Sprouts.
“Gender and sexuality though a personal attribute are a part and parcel of a person. There are many misconceptions that people hold about LGBT people and there is a dire need of positive role models for youth, in every sector, irrespective of the adult’s sexual orientation and identity. I have always been honest and disciplined about my nature conservation work and I mentor youth to be skilled conservation leaders. Nature is a great educator and also one with great sexual diversity. So once they learn about all the gender variations and sexual patterns of creatures, then human sexuality falls easily within that spectrum of diversity. Deep Education is the key to making the young, accepting and inclusive humans,” says Pendharkar.
Read about him here.
Yaariyan is the youth group of the Humsafar Trust. This year, they decided to visit an old age home in Anand Niketan, Lower Parel. I chatted up with my bisexual friend Koninika Roy from Yaariyan.
“Yaariyan decided that while we do a lot of work for our community, as an influential youth group we wanted to give to a cause because we felt like giving. As responsible young adults and LGBTQ we felt the need to say that while we care about our issues, we also care about our communities. This time we felt we would spread our love by spending a day with the wonderful people at the old age home. The response was so great that we want to do this every year,” says Roy.
Santa Namma Pride Bangalore and Queer Azaadi Mumbai:
This year, Queer Azaadi Mumbai, the LGBTIQ collective that organises the Queer Pride Parade of Mumbai, donated money to the Chief Minister’s drought relief fund. In Bengaluru, the Namma Pride march was organised. which took extra efforts to ensure that the pride is accessible for disabled persons. Thank you Bengaluru for leading the way. We will try and follow the good practice in Mumbai.
Santa Gaysi Family
Gaysifamily organises the super-awesome spoken word event called Dirty Talk. Dirty talk has always highlighted other social issues. We started with child sexual abuse, then acid attack survivors, then recently a de drug addiction group. In between, we also saw an innovative campaign called #KissOfLove where they pledged to send ½ a kilo of rice for every kiss shared to a woman rights and rehabilitation NGO called Urja. The founder, Sakshi recently donated money for the treatment of a dog.
Agreed. Such is the vibrant LGBTIQ community. We are all about our cause… but also all beyond it.
First Published On : Dec 25, 2016 20:06 IST