Yaariyan, A Community Home For LGBTQ Youth In Mumbai.

Editor’s Note: Every year International Family Equality Day takes place on 7 of May. Since the next International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOT) is on May 17, both initiatives have decided to join forces this year. From 7 May (IFED) to 17 May (IDAHOT), they have requested everyone to take action to celebrate supportive and diverse families. This year Gaysi will share stories/content on Indian LGBTIQ* families along with highlighting various forms of Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia still faced by the majority of the Queer community in the country. We hope to create better awareness resulting in effective sensitisation. If you have a story to share, please email us: gaysifamily[at]gmail[dot]com. Your words can make a difference.

We often say that friends we make become an extension of our family. Friends we make in school, in college, in our housing complex, at work, and in community spaces. And sometimes an entire community space becomes a family. It comforts us with the warmth, allows us to be anything we desire, encourages our dreams and at times heals the wounds left by our biological family. And one such family cum LGBTQ community space is Yaariyan.

Yaariyan (Friendship) is a voluntary LGBTQ youth initiative and a support group by The Humsafar Trust (HST) which functions as an online forum, organizes fun offline events and facilitates youth access to health and social support. Founded in 2010, Yaariyan is among the first platforms for LGBTQ youth in Mumbai and is an active part of the collective that organizes Mumbai Pride. It’s secret Facebook group (current membership is over 5500 LGBT members) serves as a platform for friendly discussions on queer and other issues. It is managed entirely by a team of core members who volunteer their time for the cause.

Over the years Yaariyan has become a voice for young LGBTQ in Mumbai. Yaariyan has also motivated a larger number of LGBTQ youth to access health services at The Humsafar Trust.

Experience of Yaariyan shared by core Team Member Sudo: 

When I came to Bombay, it was a new life, a new beginning. I used to fancy being a part of LGBTQ events but being a small town boy, was always deprived of it. Eventually I got introduced to Yaariyan, a space for minds like me. Yaariyan’s QGames, a pride month event was the first Queer event I attended in my life. And being there, out with people who understand my sexuality at a public space was a feeling I’ll never forget! It was priceless. I had fun. Gradually I started attending events in the community. Gulabi Mela was one of the remarkable ones! Community events became a maze I got lost into (voluntary for sure). Then dawned the day I applied for Yaariyan, with a thought that if attending these events was fun, how would being a part of organizing committee be! I applied, got interviewed. And well bang! I was a core. Initially it was fun and jolly with less responsibilities. But then as time passed, I realized that fun and events was not the only thing about Yaariyan. Behind those events was a sense of responsibility. Responsibility of bringing the youth together. Mobilizing them by providing a space for more interaction and support. Maybe this is my way of giving back to the community, the way it has supported me. Of course,  being a core is not easy. Many people hate you. But well I have also made friends out of these disagreements as well. I am proud to say, at Yaariyan, I have seen strong friendships getting built, also have witnessed love ships sailing far and have seen people be there for each other at times when one needs someone the most. It has been a great experience and I would not give up on Yaariyan for sure. I’ll give it my best and try making a difference in someone’s life, directly or indirectly. We are the Heroes without capes, we are the cores that don’t need taglines.

Experience of Yaariyan shared by core Team Member Koni:

I have been a Yaariyan core member for the past year and it has been quite the tumultuous journey. From being yet another Humsafar staff core member to being tagged on every ‘objectionable’ post or crisis complaint, it has taken me a lot of persistent and hard work. However, Yaariyan has thanked me handsomely for it. I not only found friends and mentors here, I also found my queer family. Somewhere between our late night meetings, yelling matches, fun events and monitoring of 1000s of crazy posts I have made the most lasting friendships,

Thanks to Yaariyan, even so much as a ‘hello’ on the forum yields upto 150 comments. I am so proud to be part of this fabulous, ever-growing fun family.

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Now 30, 100% shudh desi lesbian. Likes living large, and on the edge. Dislikes stagnation, fence sitting and hypocrites. Lives in a bubble of joy, with occasional lapses into drama queendom. Currently nursing a massive crush on actress Chitrangada Singh (kind of eerie, her resemblance to the late Smita Patil, don’t you think?). Aspires to build a fully functional support system for the Gaysi community in India. And most importantly, top the 'Hottest eligible desi-lezzie' list one bright sunny day.

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