Saathi IIT Bombay
Stories of Campus - 2
Anisha Bajaj - Energy Science and Engineering - 2013-18
I came to terms with my sexuality in my second year. I was clueless and had a lot of questions so I reached out to Aditya Shankar from Saathi. He was very kind and was always there to answer my questions in the early days. Right from the beginning, I had told my friends, (who were also my roommates) about what's going on. They were super cool about it and that made a huge difference in my acceptance of myself. At least I knew I would always have them around irrespective of others.
So I started telling other friends/peers one by one about it and was observing the reaction I got. Most of them were very okay with it and asked me more about how do I know etc. Some even checked with me if I was okay. Saathi had a role to play to have such an accepting environment in the institute. I also think that my being female helped and the experience might not be the same for men.
The summer after my 2nd year, I worked on Saathi Connect along with Aditya Shankar, Aditya Joshi and Mihir. As part of the project, we spoke to young people from the LGBTQ community asking them about acceptance, coming out and their story. Before that, I was feeling sad for myself. After the project, I felt very okay with myself. I realised I am not the only one going through this and its okay. Those who matter will come around this and I should distance myself from those who don't. I also got to spend a lot of time around Aditya, Aditya and Mihir. They knew a lot about gender and sexuality and the social nuances around it and I got to speak to them and learn. So, that summer was transformative for me and I will forever be in debt to the 3 people.
Saathi was there for me when I very much needed it and it was time for me to give back. It was also a way to surround myself with people who care about the cause. I organised events which can bring people together and get to know more about the cause. A lot of people trying to come to terms with their sexuality reached out to me and I tried to help as much as I can.
The institute, in general, is a very accepting place. I didn't interact much with faculty on this, so I am not sure of their view on this. Prof Ramesh Bairy (HSS) and Prof Dayadeep Monder (DESE) had brought this topic on their own and had appreciated my efforts in Saathi. So that was cool. It is great that Saathi is now an official institute body and we get to organise events in Institute.
Having said this, there will always be some people who will not be okay with it. These also happen to people who won't come out and speak out their thoughts. So, I guess it is okay. Everyone is allowed to have their opinions and I ensured to maintain my distance from them.
In the end what matters is to be happy. Being accepting of my sexuality and working for Saathi makes me happy and proud.