The only happy endings we’d ever witnessed in books or film involved people who were cis-gendered and straight. The romantic trope between a man and a woman was the only form of love story known to us. There was a clear message: not only were happy endings not for queer people, but they weren’t even important enough to exist. Unfortunately, unhappiness caused by prejudice is something most queer people face every day.
Come February, the month that is celebrated for love, queer folks often tend to feel invisible or unimportant. The feeling is reinforced by the ‘ideal’ relationships represented are heterosexual, monogamous, sexual and romantic, and anyone who doesn’t fit into those ideals feel as though they’re failing somehow. And it is not always easy to navigate this feeling of loneliness, perpetuated by society's ideas of love, right, ableism and other markers.
As a wave of fresh air, the Keshav Suri Foundation came to effect with the sole purpose of embracing, empowering and mainstreaming the marginalized communities. Since 2018, they have made a huge impact, ensuring the welfare of the LGBTQIA communities through livelihood building, providing mental health counselling and creating job opportunities and sensitizing masses. The Foundation is building a discrimination free platform, and working to bring forth the unheard voices of people from the community to the fore.
Recently, the foundation announced nationwide mental health workshops for the queer communities to ensure emotional and mental wellness. The workshops are being navigated by Mr. Deepak Kashyap, who is a mental health and life skills trainer with an extensive experience in corporate wellness and diversity and inclusion initiatives. His work made a great impact on the community, as he took them through the journey of self-care, self-realization and other tools that allow the community during times of distress.
“We realised the mental health challenges faced by the queer community were amplified in the pandemic. Queer folks faced loneliness and depression while they struggled to make ends meet with a fleeting livelihood. This is our way help the community navigate their emotions in a healthy way,” said Mr Akshay Tyagi, from the Foundation.
“We are conducting these mental health workshops primarily to understand and shine light on the mental and health needs of the queer community in India and see what knowledge, skills and tools we need to address those needs. We are hoping to eradicate the stigma around, the LGBTQIA+ community and mental health, and create a dialogue for meaningful conversations about ways to enhance the lives of the community,” said the counsellor, Mr Deepak Kashyap.
An elated participant, Nishtha profusely thanked the foundation and counsellor for these workshops and said, “Managing mental health issues has been one of the primary concerns of every human being. Challenges seem to be never ending especially for us queer folks. KSF's support along with Mr. Deepak Kashyap through "What's in your mind?" has been very helpful! We could comfortably share and discuss in a safe space, about few current topics that have an impact on our Mental Health including ‘Marriage of Convenience’ which is in the limelight.”
“The emotional wellbeing of the queer community has been ignored for a long time now, and the pandemic has proved how much and how urgently do we need to pay attention to them. This workshop helped us navigate our emotions and shed some baggage. Kudos to KSF for hosting these,” said another participant on request of being anonymous.
The workshop threw light on the causes, symptoms, prognosis, and treatments of certain mental health challenges. There were Psycho-educational activities and emotional skill-building games. The participants engaged enthusiastically and realised how to recognize, engage and work through different periods of distress.
It is 2022, we are all unique, we all come from different cultures, upbringing, we have different interests, and it should be completely normal for people to have different sexualities and gender orientations, instead of being ignorant towards this, let us all educate ourselves to make each other feel comfortable in our own skin. Practising inclusion and empathizing with those different than us, is a way to build a compassionate society. Kudos to The KSF for organizing this workshop, it was a real eye-opener.
The workshop is set to spread joy in the city of joy – Kolkata on March 1 and will visit Jaipur and Chandigarh later in the month. The foundation continues to provide free online counselling sessions and other support for the marginal intersections of society.