What was your childhood like?
Lex: I look back on my childhood with fond memories and some questions too. When I was five or six years old, I used to love dancing to songs like ‘Gairi Khet Ko’ and ‘Sapana Bhari’ for my parents. I admire them for cheering me on throughout my different ages. Whether that be my dances, what I wore, and how I was naturally. But I do wonder how and when I stopped hiding some parts of who I was to “fit in”. Overall, it was a very loving and full childhood.
Nattu: My childhood was filled with a lot of ups and downs. I lost loved ones at a very early age and was quite troubled. I was quickly termed “a rebel without a cause” when there were deeper reasons behind all my mischief.
Piroo: I grew up in a typical Nepali household with three sisters. Since we were four daughters, my father always treated me like a son and raised me like one because he believed in being rough and tough and I was all that. I enjoyed getting boy haircuts and I rarely wore dresses. I loved music ever since I was a kid and used to sing a lot. To sum up, a pretty normal childhood.
Parakram: My childhood at home with family and cousins were great, but it was during school time that it was always tough for me to adjust with the boys in terms of sharing common interests as well as playing sports. My interests were more in the creative field and I got along better with girls. This would eventually lead to different forms of bullying.
Anuj: Even if I identified myself as a gay, I was quite feminine from childhood which is why I was constantly questioned over my appearance. While I was in school, it was a little awkward for me to use washrooms as I was feminine. It was obviously tough for me than other children but not as much as that of a transgender. My father was the Principal and my mother was a teacher which might be one of the reasons why I wasn’t bullied as much. But having said that, it was difficult for me because I was still fighting for my sexuality as no such topics were reflected in school, rather we were de-motivated due to the ‘societal norms’ of one gender getting attracted only to someone from the opposite gender. These reasons made it tough for me to accept myself for who I was.
How would you raise your child?
Lex: Sometimes I have all these grand ideas about how I’d raise a child. But as a non-parent, I realise how complex it can be to raise a young one when there are so many things influencing them from outside of their home space. Ultimately, I realise raising a child that understands the importance of being respectful, empathetic and kind is what matters the most. I can only raise and teach my child that by embodying those qualities as a parent.
Nattu: I have always been fond of children and have always talked about having one in the future ever since I was a teenager. It is only now that I have realised that this desire to have a child and raise him/her was simply to give it all that I didn’t get as a child and this intention in itself was wrong. Most of us are living our parents’ dreams. Had I not had this realisation, I would have contributed to this generation which goes on cursing oneself.
Piroo: If I have a child, I would let them be them and watch them become their own person. I would encourage them in whatever they decide to do career wise. I would not judge them and bash them up based on their academics and encourage them to learn, not learn just to pass. I would create an environment where they can talk to me openly and work on the communication gap that me as a kid had with my parents.
Parakram: The most important factors would be to make them aware of how people have different gender identities and sexual orientations apart from being cisgender or straight. Also, to make sure they are in a safe environment at all times while growing up where they cannot face any form of bullying is key for their growing phase. I will make sure my child grows up being accepting and understanding towards those that are in the minority.
Anuj: The adoption process in Nepal is still very challenging. So I don’t think I will adopt a child but I keep telling my siblings to not confine their children in a box. Just because she is a girl, it is not necessary that she has to grow her hair long. I think we should let children free and let them explore who they really are.
What essential values would you teach your child?
Lex: I believe when you decide to start a family, it’s important that you provide good care, love and time for your child. It’s important for parents and children to learn together. We need both parties to be flexible as it would be unfair for me to just focus solely on my values as a parent. Maybe that’s why a lot of conflict occurs. As I said, being respectful and empathetic goes a long way and that would be something I’d practice and encourage.
Nattu: I wouldn’t label them as male or female and have certain expectations according to their gender. I would give my child the freedom to be their own person. I would teach them to respect others despite their gender, colour, race, ethnicity, background, caste and so on. No judgment, only curiousity to learn new things that this world has to offer.
Piroo: Apart from the traditional values, my focus as a parent would be to teach them gratitude early on and to be kind and empathetic towards others.
Parakram: Do not discriminate against anyone who is less privileged than you; do not bully anyone at any cost; learn to respect and people for their unique qualities and learn to be empathetic towards those that are suffering or in need of help.
Anuj: Respect and the value of time is something we should teach them rather than attacking them for their personal choices.
Do you think it is necessary to teach about the LGBTQIA+ community in academics?
Lex: Going beyond LGBTQIA+, our education whether that be history, biology or social sciences in primary and secondary school level needs to reflect society and us better. People of diverse sexual identities and orientation, people of colour and people of different castes need better representation. Whether you are in Nepal or the UK, this is an area to improve so young people understand that there’s a lot of variety in the world. The textbooks simply do not deliver that.
Nattu: Of course! Courses should be not only for the children but for adults, teachers, parents, grandparents too. Education starts from home. Always remember that!
Piroo: It is necessary and should be normalised to teach about LGBTQIA+ in schools and make it part of the course. Children learn and adapt in early age and if they are taught about it, so many children will be saved from bullying. I cannot say it will completely remove the stigma but educating about it will definitely make a huge difference for the generations to come.
Parakram: People focus a lot on sex education which is vital for growing children. LGBTQIA+ awareness and education is as vital. These children grow up to follow the stereotypes against the community because they haven’t been taught any other way. A 2013 survey showed 4.19% population to be from the LGBTQIA+ community. These are just the handful of those that chose to give information about their orientation. Children need to be aware and enlightened about the LGBTQIA+ community.
Anuj: I think it is very important to have this course in academics because the societal norms and values are taught in schools. I think this is something that will help the society to normalise people from LGBTQIA+. Besides, it will also help children identify their gender and aware them about it.
How can the society become more accepting towards the LGBTQIA+ community?
Lex: That’s a tough question. Maybe more of us ought to think that we are society and acceptance and equality only starts when we proactively change the way we do things. Sometimes, I fear that the word ‘society’ frees us up from responsibility. We suddenly think it is someone else’s job. Of course there are so many things that need to happen alongside personal action. I can go on but I’ll stop there.
Nattu: We need to stop being afraid of new things. We need to understand that we are just specks in this universe and that there are things outside this world that are far more superior than any sex or religion combined. Once you accept how insignificant we really are and stop being fearful of the unknown, only then we start having a broader mind and work towards living and letting others live.
Piroo: Society should learn to adapt and not be so judgmental towards the community. There are bigger problems in society like rape, harassments, theft, corruption and the list goes on. They should channelise their energy on these issues instead. Awareness should be given on the national level and laws should be passed in the favour of LGBTQIA+ community. I think only then the society will come a little close to accepting the community.
Parakram: As always, people with the power to influence need to step out of their comfort zone and share more about our community that helps against stigmas and stereotypes about the community as well as helping to bring awareness about the sufferings that people from the community face. More and more people need to speak about this in our daily conversations. Also, to make sure the younger generation get proper education while growing is vital.
Anuj: Courses related to LGBTQIA+ should be included in academics so that we can be identified as general and normal people. People like Anjali Lama and Bhumika Shrestha have set an example in the society that people from the LGBTQIA+ community aren’t just sex workers, makeup artists or fashion designers. People from our community can also be in fields like teaching and politics. We should try to break the chain about how the society assumes us to be. I think the government also has a huge role to play in this. They should bring in rules and regulations which do not discriminate anyone despite their gender be it in terms of marriage, citizenship or anything else. Many people even don’t have basic knowledge about our society, so I think the government should work towards it.