I know a lot of people in the community who are uncomfortable with what they are doing. If not on the outside, then within. It's as if they can't come to terms with their sexuality. It's amazing how that never happened in my case. I knew about myself even when I was very young. It was not as if I was awkward or anything. I think in this the support from the family helped me the most.
In fact my mother was very protective of me and always supported me in my journey to dignity. Even when she was on her death-bed and some of my extended family tried to raise the issue of me getting married, she ticked them off saying, "Whether Ernest wants to get married or not should be his decision. I forbid anyone from forcing him into doing anything he doesn't want to do."
As a programme officer with HIV and Development Unit at United Nations Development Programme, I'm often looked upon with admiration by both members of the community and others. However, I'd like to remind people that I did not get here just like that.
I come from an economically weak background. When I first began as a volunteer with Humsafar Trust, I remember seeing Ashok Row Kavi and his work with the community. He was a role model. I wanted to help the community just like him.
The years I spent at Humsafar have actually taught me a lot, both about being a team player and a leader. It's not as if this opportunity came to me because I was privileged or spoke English. And that's the beauty. It gives us all a level playing field to come forward and work for the community.
I have really worked hard to get to where I am now. Joining UNDP has been a wonderful experience, because I've never been made to feel different. The support and trust of my colleagues have only helped me feel more and more happy about being who I am. I want others like me to have this special feeling.
Becoming a petitioner in the case in the apex court demanding recognition for the community emanated from this desire. I am still overwhelmed that the court responded as it did.
Programme officer, HIV and Development Unit, UNDP