A web series to Connect Conversations —is an initiative taken by the students of IIT-Bombay to break all stereotypes about gender and sexuality, in which young ‘lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning (LGBTQ)’ people talk about their lives, aspirations, love, coming out and fears. It is part of the efforts by ‘Saathi’, and is probably the first-ever institute-backed campus support group in India for LGBTQ people at IIT-B.
Saathi’s orientation video shows students from the IIT Bombay campus sharing their experience with their friends when they revealed their sexual orientation to them. Coming out in the open about their sexuality made them feel more liberated as a person. For their friends, the friendship wasn’t hampered because sexuality made no difference to the dynamic of the relationship.
“We want to break the veil of silence that often accompanies topics of homosexuality,” he said. “Homosexuality is rarely talked about except in a mocking sort of a way. We want to change that.” Says Harishchandra Ramadas, a final year student at IIT-Bombay
Saathi’s concept note states that LGBTQ students live in a state of confusion, unhappiness and anxiety. “Some suffer from depression, a few of our friends have even seriously contemplated suicide,” the note states.
Saathi gained momentum after Ramadas wrote an article, “Gay @ IITB: Out and About”, in the student newsletter. The article has had 6,000 views and 700 likes. “I have been through the long and painful process of being confused and lonely and finally coming out. The process has been liberating. Through Saathi we hope to be the people that others can turn to,” said Ramadas.
Gay rights activist Mohnish Malhotra saw this as a step in the right direction but noted there is still a long way to go. “If you look abroad, there are LGBT societies in every college. It’s important to have such a support group to safeguard the interest of the LGBT community. It is certainly a positive thing to do and we need lot more of such groups across India.”