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Making Waves: Divya Dureja

Quilt Tale


Textual content through Shreya Ila Anasuya. Photographed through Sushant Chhabria. Styling through Akanksha Pandey. Hair and makeup through Riviera Vaz at Anima Creatives

In maximum footage she posts of herself, Divya Dureja seems calm, composed and assured. However on September 6, she posts an image of herself together with her face scrunched up, one hand overlaying her mouth. The image is bathed within the colors of the rainbow, and the caption reads, ‘I’m tearing up’. This is a ancient day, since Segment 377, an archaic colonial legislation successfully criminalising queer Indians, has in spite of everything been learn down through the absolute best court docket within the nation. ‘Six years in the past, I used to be so fearful of being my original self and popping out’ the caption to the publish reads. ‘I will not wait to be with queer other people and allies who perceive the actual pleasure and that means of this verdict and really feel equivalent feelings. I will’t wait to hug each one among you and make it one of the vital memorable nights of our lives!’

Nowadays, Dureja speaks concerning the revel in of residing as a queer particular person brazenly. She is DJ Sapphic (the moniker derives from Sappho, the archaic Greek poet), and a part of a collective of ladies DJs known as Coven Code. It’s telling that her DJ title takes after the OG lesbian poet’s as a result of Dureja could also be a efficiency poet who plays passionately, regularly on problems with queerness. (A contemporary evaluate likened her presence to that of Joni Mitchell’s.) A poetry movie she has made at the painful situation known as vaginismus has been proven in gala’s world wide, whilst again house she conducts talent building workshops with younger other folks on sexuality, relationships and well being. The paintings doesn’t forestall there. Dureja could also be the co-founder and director of Performers’ Consortium, which she describes as ‘a platform for nourishing performers, democratising artwork narratives, and growing protected tournament areas’. As a curator she has showcased the paintings of queer and assigned-female-at-birth artistes. She additionally curates an tournament known as What a Delight Evening! that specializes in the LGBTQIA+ group.

Tying in combination those various our bodies of labor is Dureja’s id as a psychological well being skilled. As a psychologist, she each exposes and tries to fill an enormous hole within the psychological well being services and products that queer Indians could have get entry to to. Dureja is the whole lot that standard frameworks let us know carrier suppliers don’t seem to be — vocal, enthusiastic, and now not afraid to take a stand. And it’s precisely this that units her aside.

Dureja speaks about what she is doing to make certain that the psychological well being of LGBTQIA+ Indians is somewhat bit extra protected….

Are you able to let us know about your adventure as a psychological well being skilled in India? What made you wish to have to paintings as a psychologist?
The turning level in my skilled adventure was once the revel in I received on the Global Homosexual and Lesbian Human Rights Fee and on the UN headquarters in Big apple. It gave me an perception into how international the epidemic of hatred was once and the way quite a lot of steps might be taken to handle it from an artistic, criminal and mental perspective.

I noticed how equivalent rights had been drawn, finished and practised on the place of business. I noticed how group areas functioned. I noticed how frameworks have been evolved the place queer other people may just deal with their loneliness, struggles and emotions of otherness. Going into the depths of those processes, and the way they had been finished, gave me an figuring out as to how you can bridge the distance in our Indian society. It made me increase a centered step by step way in my head which I started to execute upon go back.

As an example, one thing so simple as a Delight evening in a pub, which might make the LGBTQIA+ other people really feel protected in a public area, was once significantly missing, and I’ve organised 4 such nights in Delhi within the final six months. As a psychologist, I’ve educated the restobar team of workers to be delicate in opposition to LGBTQIA+ other people and created gender-neutral signages. Now even on non-Delight nights, the eating place sees many other people of the group at ease and relaxed in coming to this area. I characteristic my background in psychology to with the ability to make this distinction. Every such small affect makes me wish to additional my paintings within the box of psychology.

Psychological healthcare, as an entire, doesn’t center of attention on addressing the reports of marginalised communities, in particular those that determine as queer or non-binary. Are you able to give us a way of the way you deal with this on your paintings?
Despair is now and then a manifestation of repressed sexuality or struggles across the acceptance of gender id, and psychological healthcare suppliers generally tend to center of attention simplest on treating the indications as an alternative of addressing the underlying uncomfortable questions on sexuality and id. I regularly marvel through what proportion the instances of despair would drop if this wasn’t the truth of the placement. It is usually true that it’s slightly been 3 many years because the WHO and the American Psychiatric Affiliation got rid of homosexuality as a psychological dysfunction from their manuals and simply 5 years since they drew up a extra delicate classification for gender dysphoria. This modification in outlook has come about slightly lately within the clinical group, and it is going to take time to permeate into society at huge.

I construction my psychological healthcare practices on 3 pillars. First is my center of attention on designing and engaging in psychology workshops in faculties and at offices with the purpose to facilitate the well-being of change identities. I essentially center of attention at the key spaces of sensitisation, growing empathy and consciousness on subjects of gender and sexuality. I instil within the attendees a way of familiarity with the queer spectrum and an openness for them to proportion their very own tribulations in their id. 2d, is ingenious expression, the place I, as a spoken phrase poet and poetry teacher, carry out and write items which speak about destructive stereotypes, social exclusion and stigma. And 3rd is negotiating with social areas, the place I actively paintings in opposition to releasing those areas from prejudices and segregation through establishing inclusive occasions. With those efforts, I am hoping to transport our queer and non-binary reports from the perimeter to the fore.

We all know that there’s intense social stigma in India round psychological well being problems. Are you able to give us a way, out of your point of view, of the way deep this stigma runs? And what may also be accomplished to handle it?
I have in mind looking at a YouTube video that addressed how most of the people offers with a visual bodily sickness, like typhoid, as opposed to the way it offers with a psychological dysfunction like despair. It was once a commendable effort through stand-up comedians and person who aimed to focus on the significance of coping with psychological well being issues in the similar approach as one offers with a bodily situation — seek the advice of a qualified!

Be it Deepika Padukone’s heartfelt and truthful revelation about combating despair, or be it the entire debates and protection surrounding LGBTQIA+ other people’ hardships and Segment 377, the media has performed the most important position in bringing those discussions to mild. Due to the ability of the web, those messages have reached all over, and there may be drastic growth in help-seeking behaviour of people in city spaces the place I observe. A good use of the web can already be observed with teenagers and younger adults gaining access to websites like Tumblr and Instagram to search out or create fortify methods on-line. On the other hand, those have simplest scratched the skin.

Whilst the media›s messages might sensitise a couple of adults, kids wish to be sensitised in opposition to those issues to be able to erase this stigma sooner or later. In faculties, you will need to organise psychological well-being consciousness occasions that come with interactive talks and complimentary screening classes for despair, finding out difficulties and different issues. Modules wish to be created to make certain that kids develop up empowered sufficient to hunt skilled assist when the will arises and inspire their friends and family to do the similar.

Are you able to discuss how your ingenious observe as a poet has fed into your paintings in psychological well being?
My efficiency items most commonly define the struggles that exist on the micro and macro ranges. They stem from each non-public reports and sociopolitical goings-on. My efficiency serves as a kick off point for a wholesome discussion with the target audience. Persons are extra at ease in an off-the-cuff setting — the place they may be able to go through a cathartic revel in in the course of the medium of storytelling or poetry sharing.

I’ve had such a lot of folks achieve out to me in particular person and on social media platforms to inform me how my efficiency items made them really feel much less by myself, gave them the braveness to return out to their members of the family or really feel extra at ease in their very own pores and skin. Those interactions have given me a good route in opposition to development higher skilled relationships as a psychological healthcare supplier.

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