Opening Doors to EQUALITY
No human in this world is perfect. What is a perfect society? Even when we’re not complete ourselves, we want to portray that ‘this’ is what is normal, like the rule has been set and ‘this’ is what everyone must do. The idea of a ‘Heteronormative’ society (meaning there are only two sexual genders and orientation) being considered the natural expression of sexuality is a giant hurdle to jump over for the LGBTQI (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer or Questioning and Intersex) community. Why do you owe someone an explanation just because your identity does not cohere with their heteronormativity thinking? Carelessly assuming someone’s gender, gender expression, sexual orientation is nothing new even in today’s world but this is a blatant erasure of all other identities because somehow everyone must be straight.
A recent episode that opened our eyes at Nepal River Runner (NRR) was when we offered a sponsored complimentary rafting trip to all the participants and the entire production team of ‘Miss Pink 2018’ as a gesture of love & support for the community. We wanted the participants to freely enjoy the moment like it is normal and that they need not hide from coming out from the shadows. We aimed to make them feel comfortable and accepted; we wanted to show that they deserved to enjoy this trip, there is nothing wrong with wanting to have fun and nothing or no one can come between their human rights. This in fact was a successful trip for both parties as the participants expressed their gratitude to our team. “To have experienced such a thing, to have ‘fun’, and to feel accepted since no one has ever treated us this way it was like the first time. It was like a different sort of happiness and we’re thankful that we did not miss this chance”, to hear these words from them made us realize that even if their community is growing big, they are still struggling to be accepted.
Besides the issue of gender/sexual orientation, the community has just started to grow through the encouragement and act of support from some parts but the case of harassment and safety issues still remains. They are at a vulnerable stage where the youths live in fear and conflict, questioning themselves and affected negatively in their mental state. Family/Societal rejection &discrimination, bullying at school, calling it a ‘phase’ and making them feel like they’re abnormal or what they’re doing is wrong is disrespecting their rights. Besides home and school, such situations can also be faced during their work or upon looking for a job opportunity, reducing the chances of minor communities like the LGBQTI to openly do what they want to and express themselves.
To overcome this issue, we are one of the first tourism companies that has come with an agenda against this attitude of prejudice that affects the LGBTQI community of Nepal to render our full support and promote equal rights among all. Whether you identify as straight, gay, lesbian, trans, pansexual, intersexual or any other gender, we’re all humans with the same blood and the same rights. You are not bound by your sexuality or gender, and anyone can openly speak out for themselves without hesitation. Our company has been supporting the LGBTQI movement in Nepal for over a year and will continue to show enthusiasm and encourage people from the community to join us.
Teaming up with the Blue Diamond Society, an LGBTQI advocate organization in Nepal, Nepal River Runner (NRR) & Himalayan Challenge Treks (HCT) have introduced the following agendas to support the LGBTQI community:
- To provide equal employment opportunities to all individuals in the LGBTQI community (Trekking guide, Rafting guide, Canyoning guide, Kayaking guide). Also in the future, they may be involved in hotels and restaurant hospitality service.
- We will train candidates who are interested and determined to tackle the chosen activities preparing them to acquire the respective license.
- We agree to share 15% of the total transaction involving the LGBTQI guests with BDS (This shall be our Corporate Social Responsibility).
As a part of the company to help the association, our team at NRR plans to reinforce alternative learning and earning for the LGBTQI youths so they do not have to fear and hesitate from getting recruited to their desired job. Emphasizing the term, “We are all equal. Respect to all”, we are focusing to establish a LGBTQI friendly tour adventure so the youths can push forward career wise and mentally.
Living in fear of exposure, humiliation and shame is what these youths go through every single day. With the increasing suicidal rates and mental illness due to denial or depression, even the smallest efforts from our sides can help them in coming out and feel accepted for who they are. We endlessly continue to support the LGBTQI youths and promote mental health in hopes of changing the so-called ‘heteronormative’ thinking of the society in Nepal. People its time to wake up and see reality. This is who they are and there is nothing wrong with it. In the end, we are all humans.