A new video from IIT-B’s LGBTQ community has become huge hit not only among IIT-ians but among students across the country, the video is a boom on social media.
The LGBTQ Club Saathi welcomed this year freshers with a unique style. Apart from welcoming them as a common students, they also welcomed them as a member of the LGBT community.
Saathi is a group of students, staff, and faculty of the institute who try to create a safe environment for members of the LGBT community to come to terms with their sexuality.
• The idea
After being part of the group for the past six months, Anisha Bajaj, a third year student in energy science and engineering and also the director of the video began brainstorming for ideas with the LGBTQ community this summer. The idea of coming out to their friends was often contentious for members of the group and Anisha wanted to change that. She says, “Sharing experiences with your friends is one thing and coming out of the closet in front of them is another story. There is always a fear and anxiety about our friends accepting us for who we are.” Another student Aditya Shankar and a dual electrical engineering student echoes his friend’s views. “Through our video, we wanted to tell students that coming out doesn’t lead to embarrassment or awkwardness. That their friends will accept them for who they are much like ours did for who we are,” he says.
• Getting straight friends on board
Since Anisha’s friends were always in the loop about the project, they were more than happy to be part of it. As for Kunal Pathak, seen as Aditya’s friend in the video it was his moment to stand with him and not behind him anymore. He says, “As friends, I think we must be willing to support our friends when they decide to come out of the closet. Through the years, I have stood behind him supporting his decisions. But now it’s time for me to stand with him and help him through it.”
• Coming a long way
Saathi is the first undergrad LGBT community that started in 2011. It was co-founded by Harishchandra Ramdas (an alumnus of the college today) and Aditya Shankar, a fifth-year dual electrical engineer student. Aditya recalls, “During my initial years, it was difficult for one to admit that one is part of the LGBTQ community. I was the third student to be a part of it. But things are changing slowly and surely.” There are currently 262 members in the community.
The group has released two more videos in the past. The first one is titled ‘Shankar’ on coming out and the second one is called ‘My First Love’
“We made the second video emotional and included multiple languages such as Marathi, English, Hindi and Telegu to make it inclusive. The whole idea was to make people understand that these emotions are universal. The response that we garner today is a lot more and different from what we used to get in the past. Earlier we had supporters commending our efforts but stating categorically that they’re straight. People don’t do that anymore. It’s unconditional support,” Aditya adds.
• What next?
The group is currently in the process of releasing a multimedia (video and book) anthology of young LGBTQ voices of India in Hindi, English and Marathi. Aditya says, “There is lot of content online, but it isn’t ‘intelligent’ enough to be presented to the youth. The youth needs something that will speak its language.” The compilation will be released in September this year. He adds, “Hopefully this will turn into a social movement and change the landscape for the LGBTQ community in the future.”
(-Inputs from Agencies )