No Stigma, No Shame

No Stigma, No Shame
No Stigma, No Shame

First Aid #NoStigmaNoShame, a workshop with guest speakers, open mic performances, stalls, and Q & A sessions; all the programmes focusing on raising...

First Aid #NoStigmaNoShame, a workshop with guest speakers, open mic performances, stalls, and Q & A sessions; all the programmes focusing on raising awareness about Mental Health and LGBTQ is scheduled to be held on June 23 at Nritya forum.

The event will have speakers like Tripana Banerjee from Aviva Method, SuparnaVontair, a graduate student in health psychology from University of Hyderabad, Sanjana Vaddadi, LGBTQ Activist and Rebeka Ghosh, Aminator and Visual Artist. And the workshop is being held on the occasion of the first anniversary of The Firefly Community; the founding members of which are young women, who have found their own way to break stereotypes.

The Firefly Community was started with an aim to make a difference in the society and create awareness about human rights issues related to "Gender and Inclusion.The organisation was started in the month of May, 2018, and plays an instrumental role in starting conversations through different conversations through different mediums of art in the City of Nizams by Ayesha(20) pursuing MBBS at V R K Medical College, Alifiya(22) Associate at Samvad Partners, Neeti(19) pursuing MMBS at Apollo Institute of Medical Sciences, and Aaliya(18) pursuing architecture at Gitam University.

"We four members volunteered for the Hyderabad Literary Fest in 2018. When we met, our interests were same and so we decided to start Firefly Community. We wanted the conversation to happen around LGBTQ and we did our first workshop in June last year," Alifiya shares.

She adds, "It was our first event and we really did not expect people to turn up, but they were around 170 people who showed up for the first event and we realized that people need a stage where they can discuss issues that are considered taboo. We also held discussions on concerns like sexual abuse, hearing impaired. Eventually, we began focusing more on gender and inclusion."

The reason Firefly community chose to speak about mental health to mark one year of their activities is because the members of LGBTQ community face several mental issues, especially when they decide to come out of the closet. They face depression, anxiety, feel suicidal or have gender identity crisis. When you talk to these people, you realize that they don't talk about mental health issues.

They normalize the entire situation without realizing that's not normal. That's when we realized we need to club these two important topics and do something." The event is open for every age group and gender because we wanted it to be more inclusive, she states

For a few larger events, the group tries to rasie funds. But mostly they seek volunteers and the events are held at colleges, and other places that do not charge them like Qutub Shahi Tombs, Lamakaan, Bits Pilani, Phoenix arena, Nirvana Bistro. "We ensure that our events are free, so that we can have more and more people from every background to participate in it. We don't want a barrier between the event and the people," shares Alifiya.

The young girls when they first began to organise event had their own set of challenges. "Initially, the challenge was to convince our parents because they didn't know much about the topic. We had to explain it and we were really sure that we wanted to do it. Not that people have directly told us anything but being girls, when we talk about gender and sexuality, it's another challenge.

It's about how Indians have these set of assumptions and taboos in their head. There were people who would not be supportive of it, but at the same time we also have hadpeople who are very supportive. The challenge is also that there are people who you can educate, but at the same time there are people who would not change their minds."

Going forward the four girls want to register the organisation as an NGO and wish to shift focus on educating the parents first and the school kids. "Parents think children donot need to know about these things; it's against Indian culture, according to them. We have met people sharing their stories about being abused sexually as a child, but they didn't realize that was an abuse until we did our sexual abuse awareness event.

We had anonymous stories on sexual abuse, and most of them were related to child sexual abuse. It happens mostly because Indian parents don't talk about sex and children are not allowed to talk about sex in front of their parents. Our goal is stick specifically with gender and inclusion and in inclusion, we also mean issues like mental health, visually challenged and hearing-impaired communities, and marginalised sections."

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