Sweekar – the Rainbow Parents is a support group of parents of LGBT children, which provides concerned parents with information, support and encouragement to accept their LGBT children. Along with Humsafar, it runs a project called CONNECT, which enables the community members to connect with the rest of the society and its various stakeholders in multiple ways. ChitraPalekar, mother of a lesbian daughter, attended one such workshop and writes about her moving experience.
Last week,I attended, with Sweekar parents, Padma Aiyer andRakesh Sharma from Mumbai and VibhaBatra from Delhi, a conference in Delhi. (For those who are not aware, ‘Sweekar: the Rainbow Parents’ is a group founded by parents of LGBT children, to encourage and support other such parents to accept their children)
The two day conference was organised by Humsafar, Delhi branch under a project called CONNECT. This project was started to facilitate interaction of the community with the stakeholders, both at the government level and NGOs; connect LGBT groups in various smaller cities and towns; exchange information; encourage groups to start small-budget projects etc.
The participants were members of the LGBT community -leaders and activists, both old and young - as well as stakeholders - representatives from NACO, NITI AAYOG, UNAIDS, KPMG etc.
In each session, speakers highlighted the concerns of their own local groups... projects started and action taken; challenges faced; success achieved; future goals and the needs (mainly funding) to reach those goals!
The speakers were wonderfully articulate and we, the Sweekar parents were amazed to see how people from the community are working at so many levels, all over India, to get visibility, acceptance, justice in every area... And also, how many allies are strongly supporting the Cause.
It was indeed a very rewarding experience!
In our session, we talked about how and with what intention Sweekar was formed... how the parents felt the need to have correct information about their children’s world... how Alpana and her team designed a training program of six modules called Prabal (Strong), based on the parents’ needs, and conducted these workshops under Humsafar and finally, how Prabal impacted and benefited all the parent participants.
We also shared our individual acceptance stories.
Later, many young persons shared that despite being activists, they still had not fully come out to their parents. Many who had come out, requested Alpana to have Prabal training for parents in their cities. But there was a particular response to our session,which was so overwhelming that it took me completely by surprise.
Amongst the participants were very high profile trans-women activists (belonging to hijda community), who had impressed me with their vision, clear thinking and forceful arguments.Many of them had tears in their eyes while listening to our stories and one could not stop crying for hours. Our acceptance and love for our children had triggered memories of being rejected by their own parents 20/25 years ago...and what they had gone through! These confident, strong trans-women revealed the hurt, injured, abused children within them.
Padma and I spent a lot of time talking and consoling them. We have gained so many new friends now!!
It was one of the most moving and emotional experiences in my life!
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