#AgarTumSaathHo – An ode to love, support and allyship

Yes, we’ll tell you all. But first a story Love Matters Style!

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Tanika:  ‘So um…I like somebody’.

Sumati: ‘WHAT OH MY GOD! Is it someone I know’?

Sumati: ‘Wait, so like a boy from our school?’

Tanika: ‘Not exactly’.

Sumati: ‘Ummmm but I don’t know boys from other schools’.

Tanika: ‘Uh I never said it was a boy’.

Sumati: ‘Oh, I’m so happy for you!

Tanika: ‘You don’t think it’s a problem? That I like a girl’?

Sumati: ‘Listen, if it’s what your heart is telling you, then so be it!

Sumati was over the moon when Tanika, her best friend, confided in her that she was in love. Sumati didn’t care if it was a boy or a girl. She was just happy that her friend was in love!

How often do we come across a Sumati, a supportive brother or doting parents who tell their loved ones that is is OK. 

It is OK to like someone from your own gender. It is OK to feel like you are another gender. It is OK to feel you don’t like anyone or belong to no gender. 

We know that young people in the LGBTQ community grow up having to hide their identity because We, You, I and Us often judge and reject the choices our loved ones make, This has a serious impact on their self-esteem and sense of self-worth. But there are many We, You, I and US who have supported their loved ones and their journeys. 

Change in any society happens when WE accept it. 

So this Pride Month, Love Matters, India’s leading online Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) information platform, celebrates stories of love, support and companionship young LGBT people in India have received or given in their journeys.  

They launched a week long campaign – both online and offline, from June 10 to June 16, 2019  to celebrate this support. Titled ‘#AgarTumSaathHo: Celebrating Support, Acceptance and Allyship’. The campaign celebrates solidarity among  members of the LGBTQ community and their cisgender straight allies. 

Online, they shared (and published) stories of support, acceptance, love, and respect that members of the LGBTQ community have given and/or received from their allies from friends, colleagues, parents, teachers, partners and the wider society. 

Through the campaign, they published seven stories of support, acceptance, love, and respect that members of the LGBTQ community have given and/or received from their allies from across different domains – friends, colleagues, parents, teachers, partners, etc. 

They received a story from India’s youngest drag queen Shabnam Be-wa-fa where he tells us his inspiration for becoming a drag – his late mother. 

#AgarTumSaathHo - An ode to love, support and allyship

They received another story from Ikshaku Bezbaroa from Kolkata where he thanked his friend Arpita. When his long-term boyfriend broke up with him, he was heartbroken. Friends advised him many remedies, including going on a long vacation to heal. But Arpita, she was understanding and sympathetic, and also a little bored. 

#AgarTumSaathHo - An ode to love, support and allyship

To read more such stories of pride and support, log on to their website www.lovematters.in 

Their objective and hope is that these stories will encourage more empathy, acceptance, solidarity and allyship between straight and LGBTQ people in post-377 India.

Celebrating Support through Letter Writing on June 15 in Delhi and other cities

#AgarTumSaathHo - An ode to love, support and allyship

Offline, they hosted a letter-writing event in collaboration with – The Goodwill Tribe (TGT) and 91springboard, in multiple cities on the 15th June, 2019. They accepted the letter requests from the members of LGBTQ community, for their friends, family, colleagues, partners, teachers, or strangers, who have supported them in their journey and struggles to say thank you for their love and support. 

The allies also submitted a letter request to thank a person from the LGBTQ community to express their feeling that they experienced while supporting an individual from the LGBTQ.

The letter writing event received phenomenal response from not only India but also from countries like Sri Lanka, the US and Germany. They received a total of 22 letter writing requests from people who poured their hearts out to thank people who mattered the most in their lives. 

What was most interesting is the fact that the requests came not only from the people from the LGBT community but also their allies. Here are some of the excerpts from the letter-writing requests: 

‘Her happiness matters the most for me. And letters have the power to say what words cannot express. The person, to whom I wish receives this letter, is my first and only girlfriend. Due to her I came to know about this hidden aspect of my sexuality. She is thus very very special for me’.

‘P… has always been a great friend, supporting me both professionally and personally. He is, unfortunately, going through a very rough phase due to a relationship he is in, as well as an accident on his birthday, which almost resulted in him losing his finger’. 

Talking about the event, Vithika Yadav, country head, Love Matters India said, ‘I have always written letters as a child every Saturday when I was in a hostel. Letters hold a very special place in my life and I feel that they have the power to touch our lives. In today’s world, when the world is digitized and everything is on WhatsApp and email, I miss the art of writing letters’. 

She also thanked their event partner 91springboard and TGT for coming together to show their support and allyship for the LGBT community. 

Chandni Sawlani from The Goodwill Tribe said, ‘It was great to partner with Love Matters India, to host the unique #AgarTumSaathHo letter-writing event designed to inspire empathy in a more pointed, cause-specific approach. Many of the participants shared that they had always wanted to do something to support the LGBTQ+ community but had never known where to start, and shared gratitude at the opportunity. They were deeply moved by the letter requests we received, especially by the immense gratitude expressed by the people who’d sent in the requests for the recipients. It was a beautiful event and we are so grateful to have done something to show our solidarity to the community’. 

We truly believe Love Conquers All. 

So come join us in our efforts. Read and share your stories on their networks online and take part in the event offline  because #AgarTumSaathHo then everything’s possible! 

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