Beginning Of Career:
I started out as a customer-care executive
with Tata Finance Call-centre. My team used to handle the queries of the
customers who spoke in Gujarati. It was very important for me to find a job
& start earning, as it became imperative for me to have financial
independence and explore the world outside. Almost a parallel track for me was
the exploration and realization of my sexual orientation. Initially I was
ill-at-ease with myself and like most individuals of the LGBT community, I had
negative thoughts and depressing ideas of self-hurt. Then there was also the
fear of what if my colleagues or boss found about my orientation; how will they
react? Will I get fired from my job? That is when self-realization came, I
confronted my fears, began to speak up and initiated my long journey of
self-acceptance. I have culminated as the spokesperson and activist for LGBT
I am currently working as a Diversity and
Inclusion Consultant and founder of the Queer Hindu Alliance. It is an advocacy
and support group for the LGBT community. It intends to not just provide
consultation services to the families with LGBT children but also acts as a
bridge between this community and faith leaders. The judgment of the Honorable
Supreme Court stating the dilution of the Section 377 of the IPC was not the
end but only the beginning of a new and important phase for the community. A
long, arduous but exciting part of the nation's journey has begun and I am
fortunate to be a part of it. An important part of my work is talking and
interacting with faith-leaders and working with them to ensure the inclusion of
the LGBT community within the different religious groups.
I believe the first challenge is internal, i.e., confusion, denial and finally acceptance by an individual and the immediate family member. The second challenge is external - the viewpoint of the religion, society, media and the government.
Like most members of the LGBT community, I too faced the challenge of coming to terms and accepting my orientation. It was then that I started reading a lot of religious books and found out that Hinduism is not against same-gender relationships & believes in inclusion. The gender preference of a person does not come or hinders his relationship with God. On a broader level, I too faced the challenge of acceptance by society at large. As I see it, these can be broadly divided in three categories Ignorant, Neutral and Homophobic. All three categories have their own beliefs and perceptions, on one hand some can be changed/improved by sharing facts, data & stories, while on the other hand some individuals are firm & rooted with their conservative thinking, not yet ready to face the truth. When I reflect, long term, I dream of a utopia where or rather when the LGBT community members will be recognized as an integral part of the society and allowed to live without fear or prejudice. They can then contribute meaningfully to the society and help it blossom into a safer, peaceful and happier place. For invariably within our LGBT community, we have extraordinary talent, and any society or civilization would be poorer without that talent and contribution.
There are many aspects to that question. I think first and foremost is self-realization. A person must realize and accept who they are and the way they are. They then should speak up, be vocal and not be a silent sufferer. Because only when you speak up, you make life easier for yourself and many more who will follow you in a workplace. Another way to become self-confident is by joining the community. Not only is there strength in numbers, but an individual can also learn a lot from shared experiences. At the end of the day, it is not your gender-preference that matters but rather what you are contributing to society. So, every person from the LGBT community should be a positive contributor to the community that he/she or they live in. This surely gives me hope for the future, when things will get better, and the society will change their perceptions about our colorful community.
To continue reading timeless literary works with powerful inspiring stories and people, check out these top women leaders stories.