6 February 2009…Chiangmai…third and final day of the Knowledge Fair. In the first two days, I had thoroughly enjoyed the exchanges with teams from different countries of the world.

Then began the third day with a jolt of shock. Some of my newly formed friends were not what I had thought they were. They were casually sharing their sexual orientation, they were gay/ transgender and I was getting confused, and growing uncomfortable by the minute. I am from India where discussing sexuality is a taboo and MSM is a subject better left alone.

My whole day was turbulent, spent in reflection and introspection. Had I not felt at ease with them for the first few days? We had become like a family and were finding it hard to part. So, why suddenly their identity would create a chasm between us? And then a bell rang! My upbringing and my long-held but wrongly misinterpreted beliefs showed way to a new way of thinking.

By evening, my discomfort was beginning to vanish. I had realized that we are all human beings with concern and love for each other and this is what gives us strength to respond to challenges of life. The Knowledge Fair was a big eye-opener, which brought me a lot of friends and a new way of thinking. I was light and happy!

Congratulations to the Constellation team for organising an excellent event which saw a lot of sharing and exchange of experiences.

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Comment by Marie Lamboray on February 6, 2014 at 4:29pm

Traduction

J'ai gagné une bataille

6 Février 2009 ... Chiangmai ... troisième et dernier jour du Festival d’échange. Les deux premiers jours, j'avais beaucoup apprécié les échanges avec les équipes de différents pays du monde.

Le troisième jour a été un électrochoc. Certains de mes nouveaux amis n’étaient pas ce que je pensais qu'ils étaient. Ils parlaient de manière décontractée de leur orientation sexuelle, ils étaient gays / transgenre et j’étais confus, de plus en plus mal à l'aise à la minute. Je suis originaire d’Inde, où la sexualité est un sujet tabou et l’homosexualité, un sujet qu’il vaut mieux éviter.

Ma journée a été mouvementée, consacrée à la réflexion et l'introspection. Ne m’étais-je pas senti à l'aise avec eux les premiers jours ? Nous étions devenus comme une famille et nous avions du mal à nous séparer. Alors, pourquoi le fait de connaître tout à coup leur identité créerait-il un gouffre entre nous ? J’ai réalisé alors qu’une nouvelle façon de penser s’offrait à moi au-delà de mon éducation et mes croyances de longue date mal interprétées.

Le soir, mon malaise a commencé à disparaître. Je me suis rendu compte que nous sommes tous des êtres humains avec de la sollicitude et de l’amour les uns pour les autres, et c'est ce qui nous donne la force de répondre aux défis de la vie. Le festival d’échange a été une révélation pour moi. Elle m’a apporté beaucoup d’amis et une nouvelle façon de penser. Je me sentais léger et heureux.

Comment by Jiji Joseph on February 24, 2009 at 11:45am
Hi Sandeep
You have demonstrated a great deal of courage in expressing what you genuinly felt. Stories such as this will help to do way with the inhibitions that are the first barriers in talking AIDS. Though I am invisible as of now to the ACP Champions, i am following up the developments closely and am happy to know that the idea is great as it is practiced

Jiji
Comment by Indumathi Ravi Shankar on February 19, 2009 at 11:07am
Thank you Sandeep for sharing. Though I donot know you personally, I feel I know you. Acceptance from your side will always opens up others to accept you into their fold. Then slowly the feeling of 'us' and 'them' vanishes. The experience is too wonderful.

warm regards
Indu
Comment by Gaston on February 16, 2009 at 7:54pm
My respect for your sincere sharing of self-reflection Sandeep. Your conclusions about our common humanity are spot-on. And thanks for the group picture I received via Rituu today. I will be looking forward to more of your insights. Warm regards,
Comment by Laurence Gilliot on February 16, 2009 at 2:40pm
Dear Sandeep,

Thank you so much for sharing your feelings :-) I really appreciate because you show that you are also human, with feelings and thoughts. When some of our norms are challenged, it can cause some discomfort, I recognize myself in what you write.

One of the big strengths I find in the Constellation is that we are such a divers group -young people, senior, Muslim, Hindu, Catholic, Protestant, Buddhist, etc, MSM, transgender, sex workers, NGO and GO, etc.- and we all work together :-) I think it works well because we have the same values and we respect each other...

It was a great pleasure meeting you. You are young, full of energy and enthusiasm... You are a key asset in the team in India :-)

Please keep on sharing your experience along the way...

Cheers,

Laurence
Comment by Rituu B. Nanda on February 16, 2009 at 12:47pm
Hi Sandeep,

Great story. I can identify with your discomfort with MSM/TG. It took time but now a very good friend of mine is MSM.

I want to take this opportunity to thank you for your contribution in the ACP events and community visits with your amazing translation skills.

Please do add your picture.

With best wishes,

Rituu

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