Dear Queer Nilayam Family,
This was an exciting month for Queer Nilayam. This is only our second month as an LGBTQIA+ support group, however, we have reached out to so many people. We are already seeing our community members do wonderful work, spread awareness, take action and undertake projects to bring the Queer community in Hyderabad closer.
QN’s goal is to provide support for the Queer community in Hyderabad from within our community. The events of this past month, the ideas exchanged during our meetings and the constant dedication we’ve seen from our members exhibit that when our community comes together, we have the power to overcome the challenges this cis-heteronormative places against our existence and help each other thrive.
QN would like to welcome all the 11 new members who have joined us for our meetings over the past month. Thank you for attending our meetings and helping us build this community by giving your time, energy, and ideas. May we keep up this momentum and see our community grow in the coming months.
We would also like to welcome everyone who is a part of our online community. Your presence and contribution to our online groups are appreciated. We currently have 107 members on our Facebook group. The group has really grown since we formed on March 7, 2021. We also have 38 members on our Telegram group and 8 members on our WhatsApp group.
Queer Nilayam Website
We have a website now! Please visit: https://queernilayam.org/
Update on Raising Funds for a Physical Space
After much thought and debate, QN has decided to register as a trust in order to be able to raise funds and take up more responsibilities. Three of our members are in the process of submitting the documents required by the law firm to register us as a trust. Further details will be provided in the upcoming meetings and next month’s newsletter.
Due to the pandemic and rising Covid cases in Hyderabad and the country, QN had to conduct most of our April meetings online.
During our meeting on May 1, 2021, a participant, who is a medical professional, briefly talked about the COVID vaccine and explained that everyone who is eligible to get vaccinated should go vaccinated. They said that patients with COVID who were vaccinated recovered faster and had mild symptoms compared to those who weren’t vaccinated before being infected. The process to start enrolling people of age 18-45 years has started. Apollo Hospital has secured many Covishield vaccines and has started vaccinating people from May 3rd, 2021.
You can contact Rajarshi (email@example.com) for more information on the COVID vaccine. They work as a doctor at Apollo Hospital.
Note that Rajarshi is not an official spokesperson for Apollo Hospitals.
Also, Asifa Nisha who works with the Cyberabad Commissionerate is raising donations to financially support the local transgender community during these difficult times and help them get vaccinated.
Please donate using the details given in the poster.
Couple from Gujarat Seeking Refuge in Hyderabad
The following is an edited Facebook post from a QN member who helped a lesbian couple from Gujarat find refuge from abusive, homophobic parents:
Folks of QN Hyd,
This post is with regard to two women, Priya and Anjali* (names changed to keep the identity of the couple anonymous), who were a lesbian couple from Gujarat.
A few weeks ago Priya and Anjali left Gujarat to come to Hyderabad, to settle down and live here together. Anjali’s parents were physically and mentally abusive to her after they found out about Priya and Anjali’s relationship. Anjali was fleeing home after her parents were forcing her to marry a man.
Some of the members of Queer Nilayam agreed to help the couple find accommodation and work once they reached Hyderabad. Once the couple reached Hyderabad, Anjali’s family tracked them to the city. Anjali’s parents and two more relatives reached one of the QN member’s residences. The two relatives impersonated themselves as the Anti-Terrorism Squad.
The QN member was dragged to the police station, was questioned by the police, and was in the police lock-up for a day. The two relatives along with a police constable kept the QN member in custody and tried to reach the other QN members who were helping the couple be safe from Anjali’s family. In the due course of the entire journey, Anjali’s parents and relatives physically and mentally harassed the QN member who was in custody for 3 days continuously.
One of the relatives confiscated the QN member’s phone, displayed all their explicit pictures to the police, their relatives, their friends, the member’s society head, and the other QN member’s parents. The member’s family information, financial details, personal information were captured and given to the police. Around 60-70 police constables asked a lot of disrespectful, homophobic questions which has traumatized the member.
Another QN member was contacted by the police. They reached her residence and created drama at her home. The QN member was in tears as the police and the family interrogated her about the couple’s location and about her activities with Queer Nilayam and other Queer organizations in Hyderabad. During this interrogation the QN member’s family was present and she was outed to her family.
Meanwhile, the member who was in the police lock-up was taken to the DCP Commissioner’s office (the SHE Team). The other members and the couple were frequently updatingVyjayanti, who was working to get legal safety for the couple, about their whereabouts.
Due to some luck and lots of careful planning from Vyjayanti, when the QN member arrived at the SHE Team Commissioner’s office, he saw the couple along with their lawyers, Vyjayanti and Asifa Nisha who is the Transgender Help Desk coordinator in the police department. The QN member gained confidence in seeing the aforementioned people and told the entire truth to the group at the police station.
After clearing the QN member’s name of any potential charges of trafficking and kidnapping, which Anjali’s family was accusing the member of, Anjali’s parents convinced her to come back to Gujarat, and she agreed.Vyjayanti counseled Priya as she was broken due to Anjali leaving her after coming so far together. Vyjayanti, along with Asifa Nisha took care of everything else. Vyjayanti went with Priya to the airport and made sure she was going back to Gujarat safely.
The two relatives of Anjali who had created a lot of drama at the QN member’s society gave an apology letter to the QN member. The member is in trauma. Hence he hasn’t filed a case against them.
Thanks to the members of this group, to the allies of the LGBTQIA+ community, the entire SHE Team of Hyderabad, and a BIG thanks to Vyjayanti for everything.
International Asexuality Day (April 6, 2021)
International Asexuality Day (IAD) is celebrated worldwide on April 6. IAD is a result of coordinated collaboration between various international groups from more than 20 countries and is open to all. Explaining the terminology, aceweek.org says: “Our community uses the word ace to encompass anyone who fits within the spectrum of asexuality.” Hence on this occasion, let’s try and understand more about ‘Ace’ Umbrella. Asexuality describes a lack of sexual attraction.
Asexual people may experience romantic attraction, but they do not feel the urge to act on these feelings sexually. Asexuality is a sexual orientation, just like being gay or straight. It is often falsely confused with celibacy or abstinence, but it is quite different. Someone who’s asexual experiences little or no sexual attraction.
Everyone has a different experience with being asexual, and asexuality can mean different things to different people. Even if one is Asexual, one can also experience any of these – Romantic attraction (wanting just romance), Aesthetic attraction (attracted to looks), Sensual or physical attraction (wanting to touch, hold, or cuddle), Platonic attraction (wanting to be friends), Emotional attraction (wanting an emotional connect), and many more! Some asexual people might only experience sexual attraction in very limited circumstances, like Demisexuals (who experience sexual attraction only after a deep connection with the other person). Autosexuals, who also fall under the Ace umbrella, experience sexual attraction to themselves and often use tools and toys for their own sexual pleasure, not someone else’s touch.
Asexual Visibility & Education Network (AVEN) explains greysexuality is often seen as a midpoint between sexuality and asexuality. Greysexual people rarely experience sexual attraction, or they experience it with very low intensity.
There are many categories that fall under the Ace Umbrella, and quite natural. Hence, the bottom line is that Asexuality isn’t a medical concern. It’s not something that needs to be fixed.
Cheers to all Aces around the world! 🙂
Lesbian Day of Visibility (April 26, 2021)
April 26th, 2008 was chosen as the first International Lesbian Visibility Day. The day, as the name suggests, was meant to celebrate and give more visibility to Lesbians in our society. Yet 12 years later, Lesbians are still fighting for their basic rights, let alone be acknowledged and celebrated by our society.
We live in a sexist, patriarchal, homophobic society that makes it difficult for lesbians to live as their truest, most authentic selves. Despite the decriminalization of homosexuality, we still live in a country where women’s rights and LGBTQ+ rights have a long way to go before this is a safe country for lesbians. In addition to legal and political battles, lesbians have to live in shame and fear due to stigma, fetishization from men, and lack of awareness about homosexuality and Queer people.
Today, many lesbians in India have to deal with sexist and homophobic discrimination and abuse from their own families. This past month, QN tried to help a lesbian couple from Gujarat, Priya and Anjali* (names changed), run away from one of their abusive families, and settle down in Hyderabad (see Couple from Gujarat Seeking Refuge in Hyderabad above). Anjali’s abusive family followed them from Gujarat to unleash a tirade of homophobic violence on the couple and those helping them in the city.
While being harassed and interrogated by Anjali’s family, QN members learned that the only reasons Anjali’s family followed them and wanted to take her back to Gujarat were rooted in sexism and homophobia. Anjali’s parents themselves said that they would’ve been fine if Anjali had tried to run away with a man because then they would’ve known it is true love. Anjali’s parents also thought two women couldn’t possibly support themselves without a man. They went on to blame Priya for kidnapping, drugging, and manipulating Anjali into coming to Hyderabad.
Being a lesbian could come with a lot of Queer trauma, but it also comes with a lot of Queer joy. Being a lesbian means being part of a community of beautiful, strong, independent women and non-binary people (non-binary lesbians are just as valid as binary lesbians). It means having unique relationships to womanhood, embracing the divine feminine, but also challenging binaries and going with the flow. Being a lesbian means knowing that your existence is resistance in this world that constantly tries to invalidate them.
Hyderabad Queer Collective
Following the events that happened with the couple from Gujarat, a few LGBTQIA+ groups in Hyderabad, QN included, came together to form Hyderabad Queer Collective (HQC). The collective was mainly formed for greater coordination and communication between various LGBTQIA+ groups in the city.
For further information on how you can contribute to HQC, please attend one of QN’s meetings this month.
Queer Reads Hyderabad
Queer Reads Hyderabad is a QN-affiliated book club. The book club is for anyone interested in queering up their bookshelf and discussing books and poetry with Queer themes with other community members.
Queer Reads Hyderabad will have its first meeting on May 8, 2021. The book chosen for their April read was The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy, and the poem chosen was Hierarchy by Miles Walser.
Queer Nilayam May Newsletter
We are still looking for people to write for our May 2021 newsletter.
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to write for our monthly newsletter.
Only members who have attended at least one QN meeting (in-person or virtual) are eligible to write for the newsletter.
A Queer Nilayam E-Zine
While the monthly newsletters help all members stay updated on QN’s activities, we are also planning on putting together an electronic magazine to highlight Queer writers and artists from our community. We are hoping to launch the e-zine by the end of May. We are looking for people to contribute their works and help curate the e-zine.
Please attend a QN meeting this month to further plan and discuss this initiative with other interested members.
Queer Nilayam Pride Month Initiative
We are planning to make a video for Pride Month.
If you have any ideas and skills to contribute to the video, please attend one of our meetings this month and share your ideas.
Queer Nilayam Instagram Team
QN is looking for people to help run and create content for our Instagram page.
Please attend one of our meetings this month if you would like to be part of the team and share your ideas.
If you would like to share your comments/feedback, please click Newsletter.
See you all soon at one of our meetings! Until then, keep Queering on 🌈