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Of pride and pain

Goa Rainbow Trust, an NGO that works to empower, support, and mentor the LGBTQ+ community in Goa, has just turned a year old. However, it still has a long journey ahead of it, finds NT BUZZ

Danuska Da Gama | NT BUZZ

While the Supreme Court ruling in 2018 decriminalised homosexuality, it still remains a taboo in society. From fighting for equal rights, to gaining acceptance within families and society, it’s a Herculean task.

“It’s frustrating to live according to how my parents want me to live. I feel trapped all the time and whenever I try approaching them to talk about myself, they threaten suicide,” says a young member of the LGBTQ+ community

Another young bisexual tells us that though her family is broadminded, they wouldn’t accept her sexual orientation and thus she keeps mum about it. Like this bisexual, there are several out there who aren’t members of the community or part of the NGO and fight a lonely battle while trying to live up to the expectations of near ones and the society.

Goa Rainbow Trust

Thus to aid the community, the Goa Rainbow Trust, a registered NGO was founded with an aim to empower, support, and mentor the LGBTQ+ community in Goa, as well as create awareness about the issues faced by them. The organisation aspires to create a safe environment for each and every individual, irrespective of sexual or gender identity and are working towards making more allies.

The founder of the NGO, Chris Fernandes, tells us that Goa Rainbow Trust is an organisation that provides a safe space to open up a conversation with others from the LGBTQ+ community, thus making one feel less lonely and suicidal.

“We also serve as a platform of support and guidance to those closeted individuals seeking help. In the near future we plan on providing professional support by approaching LGBTQ+ inclusive companies. We also wish to conduct sessions to help firms become more inclusive”, says Chris. Apart from this, they also aim at curating a safe space for expression, to celebrate the human element, to embrace vulnerability, and to collectively strive for a positive change. They believe that LGBTQ+ individuals, like any other heterosexual individual, deserve to enjoy equal rights as they too are citizens of
India.

“The Trust aims at creating a platform for support and guidance to the students, reaching out to those in slums with healthcare facilities and uniting the LGBTQ+ community in Goa. They say, every drop makes an ocean, and the Trust similarly feels that every bit counts,” says a member of the community, Neville Gomes.

The NGO that has around 60 persons registered hopes that everything they do through their contributions will result in a chain reaction leading to a better tomorrow.

Being a fairly young organisation, having completed one year on October 31, 2019, Chris says that many are still not aware of the establishment. “The exposure is increasing with time, and we are growing. In spite of this, many fear being outed by attending events organised by us. Hence, target turnouts are a struggle to achieve,” says Chris.

The community in Goa

“Most of the LGBTQ+ community in Goa is closeted due to religious family backgrounds. Hence, many often do end up marrying people of the opposite sex. And that ends in a divorce,” informs Neville Gomes.

He goes on to say that there are several challenges that the community in Goa faces. “These include lack of awareness of the LGBTQ+ community within the general population of Goa, lack of education, and sensitisation of the corporate and retail spaces in Goa,” he details. All this, says Chris, can be changed through proper awareness programmes starting from primary education.

“Given enough awareness, education and visibility we are confident inclusiveness will happen,” Gomes agrees.

“Goa, being a small state has a long way to go to achieve what many other metro cities like Mumbai, Bengaluru and Delhi have done so far”, says Chris, adding that  all that the community desires is for people to keep an open mind and accept them with love.

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