Each Semester break, Radio Active receives a number of applications for Internship. And this time, we decided to start the Intern Diaries, a reflective diary of their experience
College can be a very cruel place for people who don’t fit in. Our first close experience with the sexual minority community was because of our class mate “X”. His mannerisms and theatrics were very feminine; he loved the company of women and loved eye make-up. While we naturally concluded that he was “gay”, a typical way of stereotyping someone who expresses feminine mannerisms, it was only after a couple of months that he officially “came out”, to the class. While the entire class readily accepted him for who she was, it also inspired us to embrace ourselves as we were. He always said “I am my favorite person”.
We realized that there was so much for us to learn and in the face of any challenge, backing down was never an option. He worked for a local community radio station- Radio Active CR 90.4 MHz as an RJ, reaching out to many other people who were so much like him and were struggling to find comfort in their own skin.
In July 2015, we had the opportunity of attending a lecture on community radio and our professor decided to give the entire class a group assignment on radio. And so in August we had the opportunity of visiting Radio Active CR 90.4 MHz, for the first time. The Radio station had a personality of its own. The people that came in, their passion and their commitment to the radio left us in awe. It was a station of activists, representatives of the communities they came from. It seemed as though, there was so much to do, but such little time. Like busy bees, they scurried around, gathering information, taking interviews and recording their shows. Though at lunch time, they dropped whatever they were doing and got together like one big family and shared food like one big potluck party. It made us think, in these never ending commitments of ours, did we ever spare the time to make such moments?
The following semester break, we decided to intern at the station along with our classmate. He guided us through the station rules and nuances, and helped us settle there. One of the first people we were introduced to, was Akkai Padmashalli, a charismatic trans sexual woman, who greeted us with a very big smile, and we were instantly charmed. She exuded grace in that simple cotton sari that she wore, and childlike enthusiasm in her work. Our first interaction with her was when she objected to our classmate’s preference of pronoun of him for himself. She held strong opinions on the way people treat the “gender” of the opposite person, and her stance was in no ways, meek. Akkai regularly gave gender sensitization seminars across colleges and was not shy in expressing her thoughts on the way college professors addressed their students. She fought against the entire system and got herself recognized under the female category in her passport and driver’s license. There are times, when we all are sitting and doing whatever it that we are assigned, when Akkai would break into a sudden jig, instantly brightening the entire station. . She was adorable, fearless and commanded respect with the way she spoke and carried herself. Recently Akkai was conferred the Rajyotsava award, which is the second highest civilian award. She seemed happy enough, but when we asked her about her thoughts on receiving this award, she simply quoted “I have miles to go before I sleep”.
As media students, we feel that it is extremely important that students are sensitized on “Gender Understanding and Appreciation”. The sexual minority community is grossly misrepresented in the popular media, especially movies. Tags like “Mangala Mukhi”, continue to exist in official documentation. Even applications forms are bracketed into male or female, which needs to change. There are people, who claim to be “gay-friendly” as a part of the whole “being modern” milieu, but underneath those covers, lies an innate sense of homophobia. It is this trait that we have to sensitize people against, but will only happen when the community “speaks up”.
Ashwini Raj and Rukaiyah Yusuf
Ashwini and Rakaiyah are final year BA Students at Jain University . Ashwini’s interests are watching movies and reading. Rukaiyah’s interests are listening to music, reading and writing.