The 5th of October saw strangers come together in small groups around campus, to listen to stories that are so rarely spoken first hand. It takes a lot of courage for people to share the darker aspects of their lives with friends, let alone strangers. Yet, there is a necessity to have honest conversations, no matter how tough the subject matter becomes. All stories have their unique value, whether they’re ground-breaking (literally) , or a silent struggle with identity. Important issues like mental health have to be talked about and acknowledged. Qissa ’17 aimed to create a safe space where these stories of monumental personal importance can be liberally discussed.
The atmosphere felt slightly uncomfortable at first, but slowly morphed into one of mutual respect and empathy. One of the speakers highlighted that normalising talk about hair-raising incidents removes the stigma and shame associated with them. As homosexuality is still criminalised in many parts of the world, another speaker explored the layers of bisexuality, and condemned the use of casual, everyday gay slurs. Thanya, an audience member, pointed out that people can have apprehensions towards things they don’t understand, like same sex attraction. She continued by emphasising that you don’t have to understand everything about a person to accept them.
A few stories may be harrowing, yet they give us the strength to overcome the relatively minor obstacles in our journey. They also encourage us to look beyond a superficial perception of a person, and blend together in solidarity. In closing, the organising committee remarked, “the event displayed the crux of college life – people and perspectives. Events like these make people realise how much more there is to know, and to feel”.
In our fast-paced and hectic college lives, Qissa ’17 rediscovered the purity of intimate inter-personal relationships by establishing a series of straightforward, honest dialogues. It went on to show us the kind of influence powerful conversations can have, and is hopefully a stepping stone towards the genesis of a more accepting, considerate society.