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15 Nov 2018, Edition - 1220, Thursday

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TCP′s LGBTQ Pride

A 24X7 helpline for troubled LGBT community members from villages and small towns

Susmitha Suresh

Here is a lifeline for all those confused about their sexuality but were not getting any help? – especially if living in villages, small towns and tier II cities.

In the absence of any viable support system and facing social ostracization, people having different sexual preferences led a difficult life as even if they opened up, the society was not ready to accept them.

But now, there is a lifeline for every such silent sufferer – a 24X& helpline on phone, Queerythm Helpline +919745545559 that today has 50 volunteers who listen and counsel the callers from the LGBT community. For the volunteers understand and speak four languages – English, Malayalam, Tamil and Hindi – fluently.

It all started just about year ago in Thiruvananthapuram with just a handful of volunteers. Today, it has grown into a 50-strong volunteer team that has committed itself to empower the so-called miniscule minority and make them realise their self-worth. The vision was to empower the people dubbed queer and help them become strong and lead a normal life in the society with their head held high.

Prijith PK, President, Queerythm, had witnessed the trauma and sufferings of people from LGBT community over the past years and was concerned. So, to give a voice those afraid to speak of their troubles, their desires under threat from bullies and societal discrimination, Prijith and his team, found the Queerythm to give long-term support to its members.

“Phone call being the most accessible medium, we planned to open a 24*7 helpline” said Prijith. “We have received so many calls related to death wishes, suicidal attempts and inability to express themselves,” he told Covai Post.

Trained members of Queerythm LGBT community answer the calls and make initial enquiries. The calls are then redirected, as per need, to doctors and other trained counsellors. Some common issues addressed include self-acceptence, coming out, family and surrounding issues, health issues, legal issues, suicidal thoughts and sexual harassment from the society. The helpline also provides legal assistance, sexual health advisory, crisis management and queer awareness.

“It was overwhelming at the beginning” said Prijith adding “With their grievances mounting every day, we were finding different ways to resolve their queries.”

The hotline began functioning on November 20, 2017. Since then they have received over 500 queries. The helpline staff made direct intervention in 200 cases for crisis management. Today, the centre receives more than five calls a day.

The helpline also gets occasional of calls from parents, teachers and relatives. We have calls from other cities such as Coimbatore, Pune, Chennai, Kolhapur and Mumbai as well, said Prijith.

When asked how they deal with the hate they get from people, Prijith said, “We receive homophobic comments from the society. We have do a lot of sensitisation programmes and give legal assistance to the victims. “

Queerythm helpline is available round the clock on +919745545559.

COIMBATORE WEATHER