Celebrating Bi-Visibility Day

Divya Iyer, I Year B.S.W

23rd September is known for being one of the two equinoxes, but less common is the knowledge that it marks bisexual visibility day, or as it is often abbreviated, ‘bi-visibility day’. This is the day that bisexuals can be unapologetic about their identities.

While bisexual individuals do not face the same difficulties and prejudices as homosexual individuals, there is still a fair amount of prejudice from people when it comes to bisexuality. The ambiguity associated with an identity that is “neither here, nor there” often worries people, who may think that bisexuals are just “gay people afraid to come out properly” or “straight people who want to sound interesting” or, as almost every identity in the LGBTQ+ spectrum has heard before, are just “going through a phase.”

Furthermore, bisexuals are often discriminated within the community itself – for not being queer enough, or something like that. Bisexuals are told to “pick a side,” and are perpetually reminded that their identity is not good enough. Of course, not all people are biphobic – the term used to describe someone prejudiced against bisexual individuals – just as not all people are homophobic, but a fair number are.

 

It is important to note that bisexual individuals are less noticeable as bisexual due to this phenomenon called ‘bisexual erasure.’ When we see a girl and a boy in a relationship, our first assumption is that they’re both heterosexual, which need not be true.

One or both of them may be bisexual. Similarly, perceiving same-sex relationships as two homosexual people together may also not be true. Add in the context of other identities, such as polysexuality and pansexuality and you get an entropic scenario where you don’t ever know what people identify as unless they tell you themselves.

The concept of erasure has to do with invalidating these identities- refusing to give them the space and recognition they need, possibly even denying their existence. Such attitudes are highly disrespectful, not to mention toxic and harmful.

 

The bottom line, of course, is that of respect. Why do bisexual individuals require a day to themselves, to celebrate their identity and be proud of it? If one gives them due respect and visibility, we would not need to schedule an extra day in the calendar for remembering them. After all, as Depeche Mode says, people are people. What’s there not to love?

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Bharat Yatra: Kailash Sathyarthi’s Journey To Freedom

Mathangi N M, III Year B.A. English
Image source: Stella Maris College website

“The Bharat Yatra is the march from fear to freedom.” – Kailash Satyarthi.

On the 13th of September, 2017, Stella Maris College had the privilege to receive Mr. Kailash Satyarthi, Recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize of 2014, who made a brief stop at Chennai for his Bharat Yatra.

The Yatra commenced at Kanyakumari on the 11th of September, 2017 and will culminate at New Delhi on the 10th of October. The Yatra is the declaration of war on Child Sexual Abuse by Mr. Sathyarthi who wishes to reawaken the consciousness of the people through this symbolic demonstration.
Accompanied by the Chief Justice of the Madras High Court, Miss Indra Banerjee, Mrs. Satyarthi and Mr. Paul Bhaskar, the regional convenor of the Bharat Yatra, Mr. Satyarthi addressed everyone present in the college campus and urged them to rid India of the evils of abuse.

“I am still an ordinary Indian and a friend to all of you”, said Mr. Satyarthi in his address to the audience and connected well with the crowd by chanting slogans in Tamil. Following his speech, the dignitaries Mr and Mrs. Sathyarthi, Sister Susan and several other members of the administrative staff began the Pada Yatra from the Open Air Auditorium. The staff and students also joined in thus, collectively embracing the vision of war against the injustice of abuse.

Ignorant Bliss

Pooja Krishna H A, III Year B.A. English

What will you do
If I die?
Will you mourn?
Will you cry?

Will you even notice that
Something’s amiss?
Or will you go on with your
Gray lives in ignorant bliss?

SMC Quiz 2017

Divya Iyer, I Year B.S.W

The SMC Quiz 2017 held on 9th September, was a much anticipated event as the students of Stella Maris College looked forward to answering the many questions buzzing in their minds.

The event, which was sponsored by ChuChu TV, Mad Street Den, VBJ, Crea-Shakthi, Freeing India and Naturals, had several college students present at the event including those from SRM University, PES University, VIT and NALSAR.
I was sitting there, watching the energy with which the participants interacted with each other. There’s something almost contagious about it; about the brightness in their eyes and enthusiasm when they know an answer, and sportsmanship and grace when they don’t.
There were three main quizzes conducted- The India Quiz, Around The World in 30 Questions and The General Quiz. The India Quiz and the General Quiz were conducted by Quiz Master Chandrakant Nair. Around The World in 30 Questions was conducted by Rumaiza Fathima, a student of SMC.

This marks the first time that the Debate and Current Affairs Club has conducted a quizzing event independently- with the quizmaster to be one of their own- and as such, the event holds a special place in the hearts of all the Stella Marians.

 

The winners of the quizzes are as follows –

 

The India Quiz winners are  Preetham Upadhya and Ritvik Chattopadhyay in first place, followed by  Sidhaanth Rao and Abijit Hariharan in second place and  Lokesh Kaza and  Balaji Subramanian in third place. The winners of Around The World In 30 Questions are  Kunal Naik and Kishore Rajendra in first place, followed by  Lokesh Kaza and Balaji Subramanian in second place and  Preetham Upadhya and Ritvik Chattopadhyay in third place. The General Quiz Winners are  Preetham Upadhya, Sidhaanth Rao and Ritvik Chattopadhyay  in first place, followed by  Lokesh Kaza, Abijit Hariharan and Balaji Subramanian in second place and  Ferril Samal, Gerleo Nimalan and Sukruth N in third place.

Bhavan’s Rajaji Vidhyashram won the ‘Best School Team’ prize.

 

The participation from the quiz teams, like I already mentioned, was a wonderful thing to experience. The participation and enthusiasm of the SMC debate club volunteers were also remarkable. All the volunteers went out of their way to ensure everything was in order and worked well together. Even when the workload seemed overwhelming, they remained optimistic.

 

Watching the quizzes was a valuable experience. The seriousness with which the event was conducted and the dynamics of each team were interesting to observe. The quizzes focused on trivia and I was pleasantly surprised by how knowledgeable everyone present was. The way the event was organized was also brilliant, and opened my eyes to what superb teamwork looks like, in motion. The event was definitely a success, and I was proud to be a part of it, to look behind the scenes and see what made it a success

Where Bullets Are Louder Than Voices

-Zenia Zuraiq, I Year B.Sc Physics

On September 5th 2017, Gauri Lankesh, Indian journalist-turned-activist, was shot to death by unknown assailants outside her home in Rajarajeshwari Nagar, Bangalore. Lankesh, the editor of Gauri Lankesh Patrike, a weekly Kannada tabloid in an interview with The Wire said that she was “concerned about the state of freedom of expression in the country”.

The day she was gunned down was Teacher’s Day, and as it happens, this event has taught us a lot about how we, as a country, work and how we, as a country, would rather speak with bullets.
‘Freedom of Speech’ has been downgraded to no more than an offhanded comeback for when someone criticizes your view. Because we’re all staunch believers in this fundamental right as long as the speech in question matches your beliefs.

Democracy, you say? For the people, you say? And yet, here are people being gunned down outside their own homes for what they believe – for speaking their mind. We have no open minds here, just empty hearts. Hollow minds. Minds that are open to the one true opinion, my opinion, and ‘don’t say I’m wrong, because I’ll kill you if you do!’
What a world we live in.

There has been a lot of talk about Gauri’s beliefs and political leanings, but the truth is, it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter what political ideology Gauri identified herself with. Nothing can justify this cold blooded murder, and nothing should. She had the right to voice her opinion, not the right to have her life stolen away for it.

Yes, Gauri used her voice. And the truth is, we’re all Gauri. We’re all carriers of powerful minds that are so prone to getting infected by ideas that cannot be tolerated. We’re all prone to wanting to be heard – prone to using our voice. And in this cacophony of voices there’s always going to be disagreement. But that’s what democracy is about, it’s about meaning in that crazy mix of different voices.

And so the question is, what are we left with if we erase some of those voices? And honestly, I don’t want to answer that anytime soon. We, as a nation, must not answer it anytime soon.

So, let us remember this voice. Gauri’s voice. The voice of an extremely strong, fierce woman who wasn’t afraid to speak up. A woman who didn’t believe in shrinking in the shadows but wearing her opinionated heart on her sleeve. A woman who stood by what she believed, brave and bold.

I’d like everyone to be aware of this important event. September 5th 2017. The day we as a country, as a democracy, hung ourselves. The rope of “intolerance” tightens. India can’t breathe.

Loosen the noose, everybody.

Rest in Peace, Gauri.

Floundering About Like Beached Whales

Riya Nagendra, I Year B.A. English

It’s not so much ‘Blue Whale’ itself that needs to be picked apart – yes, it’s a horrible “game”, but now it exists and we have to face it. Which is why, right now, the real problem seems to be the incomprehensibly incompetent way in which people seem to be dealing with it.

It’s a well-known fact that when you face problematic things in life (successfully or unsuccessfully) you get Experience Points – provided that you learn something from said experience. Right now, the extraordinarily paranoid people in various institutions and administrative bodies attempting to tackle the whole Blue Whale shenanigan have points running in the negative.

I agree, when there’s someone encouraging children and teenagers to harm themselves, we do have something to be worried about – but as always, our caretakers seem to focus on what we should do and what we should not to do rather than why we should or shouldn’t do those things. Which is why, as always, we have the CBSE sending around circulars telling parents to keep their child off the internet, ‘don’t let them play the game’ blah blah – when they should instead be telling parents to talk to their children about it – not yell, not command, but talk. As friends, as equals.

However, we seem to hate talking about things that need to be talked about – mental health issues and sex education, especially. Perhaps, if during those 10th standard biology classes, our teachers hadn’t embarrassedly skimmed over certain lessons, we’d be able to understand concepts like consent. We’d be able to realise that we could say no and get out of a bad situation before it got worse. If our parents were more vocal, more understanding, we’d be able to confide in them, and they’d be able to protect us better by virtue of not being so protective.

Finally, after all the woe and the the suspiciously detailed WhatsApp forwards (that do more harm than good), the blame falls on that one bakra – technology.

I don’t think that people realise that humans (teenagers, especially) are curious and rebellious creatures. The more we’re told not to do things, the more we want to do those things. We are not, however, totally devoid of the ability to understand reason.

But we can only understand reason when there is someone to reason with us.

Omniscience

Riya Nagendra, I Year B.A. English

Do you know that feeling when you look at the stars?
An awareness
Of the world –
Of other people –
Of their lives –
Of summers that have passed
And of summers that are to come.

It’s a feeling that can understand all the music ever written –
As if music was written just for those moments.

Humans Of Stella

Samyuktha Shiva, I Year, B.A.English
Image credits: Krishna J. Nair, I Year, B.A.English

 Nora Alexy

“Music has been a huge part of my life.

My brother has always been very good at music. At first, I just used to go along with him to his practice sessions at Church. After a while, I took a chance and tried singing a bit myself. That’s when the people around me started letting me know that I could actually sing!  Soon after, I landed a solo – this one song, every Christmas. This slowly made me realize, ‘Hey! I’m actually pretty good at this!’
I actually had something in me that I could work on and hopefully get better at.

All these years later, I’ve finished a couple of grades at Trinity and, now, finally, I’m doing exactly what I want to do in terms of music. I absolutely love being able to go up there, sing my heart out, entertain people, and mainly just have a good time myself!

I sing all the time! So even if I’m having a really good day, I sing, and maybe when I’m having quite a bad day, I cover. I think a few of the covers I post haven’t really been taken when I was at my happiest. Most times, even the songs I cover are in accordance with what I actually felt that day.

No, it’s not like music  makes anything better, but it somehow makes me feel like I have someone to lean on, it might not be a person, but it’s just something I do that truly helps me.
It’s almost like therapy!
That’s why I feel parents need to expose their children to music more. It should also definitely be a subject in school, because it’s such a cool thing to learn!

Yeah, not everyone is going to be a good pianist, or a good singer, but that doesn’t matter, you just need to give it a shot and, I promise, it’ll be fun. Music will help with everything! Everything from your hand-eye coordination, your mental health, and even your social skills.

On top of that, I think it’s always nice to have a hobby.

Nothing is stopping you now, you can always pick up an instrument, or try your hand at singing. Learn it from YouTube, if you’d like, but just give it a try!

It’s absolutely worth it.”

Your Story Isn’t Over

Gaayathri Sukantha, I Year B.A. Fine Arts
Krishna J. Nair, I Year B.A. English
Image credits: Twitter

Cancer, smoking, heart disease, suicide – the only factor linking them together is that these are the world’s leading causes for death, and suicide seems to be the most ignored one.
Millions of people struggle to find a reason to live, every single day. These people are not “weak”, but are pushed to the extent that they feel like ending their life is the only way out of the labyrinth of suffering. September 10th is observed as World Suicide Prevention Day in an effort to unite the people and send the message out clear – to be there for each other every step of the way.

The Dead Poets Society brought together different writers under one roof and, in 2013, Amy Bleuel came up with a similar idea called ‘Project Semicolon’ to bring people struggling with mental illness and suicidal intentions together and share their troubles. Most people are aware of this project because of viral posts by people who got themselves a semi colon tattoo, and some came to know about this last year, upon the passing away of Amy Bleuel herself.

With the slogan ‘Your Story Is Not Over’, Project Semicolon functions as an anti-suicide initiative for anyone who is struggling to find a reason to stay alive. It was started in Wisconsin, United States by Amy Bleuel, after the tenth death anniversary of her father who committed suicide. Having lived through a childhood that included harassment, sexual abuse and self harm, she introduced this initiative to bring together people so that they can realise that they are not alone in this world. A semi-colon is also used by writers where they could’ve ended their sentence, but chose not to. Hence, it is a symbolic way of saying that you could’ve ended your life, but you chose not to.

Some people also get this tattoo to show their support for a friend who is feeling suicidal or depressed; to show them that there is someone who understands them and chooses to stand by them.

The whole purpose of the project is not to sympathise, but rather, empathise.

Project Semicolon has helped in connecting people who are going through the same emotion. By communicating their hardships through this platform, they acknowledge that as they are all travelling in the same boat, and that if one ever wishes to drown, there will be another to help them up again.

It is a poetic tragedy that the founder of the project Amy Bleuel, committed suicide on 23 March 2017. The whole purpose of the project comes to a standstill when the creator herself stands as an irony for the project. Nevertheless, what started as a project with good intention continues to do so as this gives them the hope that sometimes, the story never ends.

If you are ever in need to talk to someone, vent out your emotions, or feel that there is no point in living at all, reach out to someone you trust; talk it out. There will always be someone who is willing to listen.

Suicide Prevention Helpline: 044 2464 0050/60 – Sneha Suicide Prevention Center, Chennai.

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