Understanding LGBTQI among young people aged between 13-21 years old of Kathmandu

I am Simran Shrestha, currently studying Bachelor in Pharmacy (4th Year) from Tribhuvan University. I am a 20 years old who believes to look into the positive aspects in life. An extrovert in nature, I love to socialize with people because you can learn so much from a person’s life stories.It was only through this instance that I got a chance to talk to guy who apparently identified himself as ‘Third Gender’. He was my classmate. It was only after few conversations, I knew he was gay. Eventually, we became good friends. However, there was something I noticed about him. He never really spoke to anyone else in my class, except me. During the time when I wasn’t around at my college, he would choose to skip his classes too.

I was curious. One day, over lunch, I asked him.

He confessed he got bullied after being recognized as third gender. They called him “Hijjada”, a disgraceful word used as an insult for Gay people in Nepal. He couldn’t take stand for himself. He shared what it was like to be treated differently and not being able to be accepted by the family and society. This particular conversationinspired me to change people conscience& aware them about LGBTQI.

So, when ‘We’ for change introduced me to this opportunity of changing my dream to a reality, I did not think twice and submitted my name.

The mindset of our society is a suppressing factor to this issue, to which Blue Diamond Society (BDS) in Nepal has been prominently working to create a different vision of acceptance towards LGBTQI. So, our first initiative was to interact with BDS and collaborate with LGBTQI people which helped us to execute our plan. An intensive consultation with Ms. Bhumika Shrestha, transgender activist of BDS, to discuss the prevalence of bullying on third gender in Nepal, took place. To which she replied that at least 1 in 50 young people face either physical or verbal bullying during their adolescence. She was really supportive and helped us to develop our in-depth understanding of the project.

During our project we learned, “Challenges are the stepping stones to opportunities”. We got to know how these people struggle with themselves & society. There is always a need to develop strong will power for LGBTQI in Nepal to survive. Inability of acceptance and considering LGBTQI as a taboo is the reason LGBTQI people severely lack confidence and self-esteem in them.

Our next step was to formulate a concrete plan of action to execute our program. Upon our consultation with LGBTQI, we got the approval from BDS to run our event in their platform among LGBTQI people. Currently, we are in the verge of completing our project plan. Even though this project has not yet reached the phase of implementation, I have been able to gain positive learning.

It is always easy to construct a plan for your project but it’s the idea that matters the most. I would recommend anyone trying to develop their project is- INITIATE. Try to step in their shoes and only you can connect with their problems. Try to get in touch with all the stake holders to bring out the safe space for them.

Ever since the start of the project, I feel I have personally grown and develop my ability to speak for someone.I have been able to see the spark of hopes in their eyes which made me believe that I am here for a reason - to create positive change in society. I realized that every soul on this earth has same color but different stories to tell. And peace can only be achieved when we realize our differences; externalize and accept our inner conflicts.  Strife is contagious and so is peace, so what is the way forward? If you ask me? I have a simple answer for that, let your nature transcend far above race, class, sexuality, tribes and nations and before all that just listen to your heart.

Happy International Day of Peace!