- A 30-year-old teacher changed jobs five times before finally quitting because of discrimination at workplace.
- It took about 15 years for a shopkeeper to get accepted for what she is and acceptance came after a fair share of struggle. Kolkata: Stories of discrimination, non-acceptance and partial acceptance were shared by those from the LGBTQI+ community at a programme on Saturday.
Hosted by the US consulate in Kolkata, the programme on Inclusion and Diversity: Are We Doing Enough, saw the Lincoln Room of the American Center packed to capacity, mostly with young people, many of who came as allies or to express their support for the LGBTQI+ community.
The event was designed by US-based non-profits StoryCenter and Theatre Alliance, in partnership with the US state department alumni.
The event marked the culmination of a five-day workshop that brought together 10 LGBTQI+ activists and participants from the US, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Tripura and Bengal to share their stories.
US consul general Melinda Pavek in her welcome address said that while numbers and data provided valuable evidence of the “challenges and discrimination” faced by LGBTQI+ community, narrating personal stories offered an “intimate glimpse into the lived experiences” of the members of the community.
“It is important these stories move out of the protected shell of the community and into the broader community and all around the world. This is important in the creation of connections, understanding and allyship,” said Pavek.
A 47-year-old trans-identified, who runs a tea and cigarette shop, narrated her story of facing opposition from other shop-owners. It gradually reduced when they learnt that she was once a teacher. “We should be respected for what we are and not on the basis of our profession or livelihood,” she said.
A 30-year-old non-binary person resigned as teacher because of discrimination. “When I walked into a classroom I would be discussed... there would be intrusive questions as to why I was not getting married... it made me uncomfortable and angry,” she later told The Telegraph.
Amy Hill, programme director of StoryCenter, said: “Offering a safe space where LGBTQI+ community members can reflect, connect and grow through storytelling creates a platform from which solidarity and action for justice can emerge.”
Theatre Alliance director Raymond Caldwell said they were thrilled to partner with members of the LGBTQI+ community in India.