Love is never wrong.
— Melissa Etheridge
QueerTWENTY is a labor of love for egomonk and we've invested time, energy, and resources into recognizing and celebrating the LGBTQ+ community. It is a difficult and necessary exercise for us to lean into the lives of others so they can then shine a light for others. This cohort attempted to include individuals across age groups, geographies, sectors, abilities, orientations, and neurodiversities. This demanded a lot of intention but we are glad to have committed to and done this inner work. This is why we had to forego our usual November timelines. We hope these conversations spark something authentic in you and prove as valuable and expansive as we found them. If you'd like to support our upcoming 2023 cohort please reach out to us.
The Cohort of 2022
Hina Siddiqui - Transmedia Storyteller
Hina Siddiqui is a transmedia storyteller who uses the power of storytelling to envision more inclusive worlds. In her free time, she mentors and coaches aspiring writers. Hina is passionate about cultural futurism and believes that at the heart of this movement lies the possibility of better futures for neurodivergent and queer folk. Having suffered years of alienation and discrimination, Hina strives to create safe spaces for non-normative gender and mental identities.
Meghna Mehra - All India Queer Association
Meghna Mehra has been a radical voice in reversing the inaccurate understanding of asexual identities in our sexualized society. Never shying away from calling out injustice, Meghna relentlessly advocates for different marginalized groups that suffer under the capitalistic patriarchy. Through her organization, the All India Queer Association, she strives to bring about constructive change through educational campaigns, participative democracy, and providing on-ground support via shelter assistance and mental health-aid facilities.
Malobika & Akanksha - Sappho for Equality
Malobika and Akanksha are two powerful lesbian feminist icons in India who have been fearlessly championing LGBTQ+ rights for more than two decades. They are two of the six co-founders of Sappho for Equality. With an impressive track record of activism and advocacy, this lesbian couple has been at the forefront of dismantling social norms and stigmas surrounding same-sex relationships. Having known each other for 40 years and being each other's partner in both life and activism, Malobika and Akanksha's story is one of incredible strength and resilience in the face of societal discrimination and prejudice.
Vikram Kolmannskog - Gestalt Psychotherapist
Vikram Kolmannskog is an Indian-Norwegian writer, lawyer, and therapist. He holds a doctorate in Sociology of Law and currently works as a professor of Gestalt therapy at the Norwegian Gestalt Institute University College (NGI). Apart from running a private practice, Vikram is a published author. His latest work is entitled Becoming Buddha (Mohini Books, 2020). Through his research, writing, and therapeutic practice, Vikram addresses issues plaguing marginalized communities at the intersection of gender, climate change, and social justice.
Sadam Hanjabam - Ya_All
Sadam Hanjabam has been tirelessly working towards empowering members of the LGBTQ community through Ya_All, an organization he founded in 2017. Ya_All was North East India’s first registered youth-led organization working to better LGBTQ rights and organizes an annual Queer Games in Manipur. Apart from this, Sadam has also curated India’s first football club for trans people.
Rohit Kumar - Apni Shala
Rohit Kumar has championed radical changes in the Indian education system for over a decade. As the CEO of Apni Shala Foundation, he works towards making children’s mental wellness a non-negotiable aspect of school design. Rohit found his calling in education while working at Tata Consultancy Services as a software engineer. What started as participation in CSR initiatives turned into a passionate journey for creating systems that care for future generations.
Jay Ersapah - Silicon Valley Bank
As an Asian woman of color who is a lesbian, Jay navigates her professional life at Silicon Valley Bank from a unique intersection. Despite the colonization of her culture and its impact on queer acceptance, Jay has been able to translate one of the most isolating experiences into amplifying intersectional queer visibility. A staunch advocate of DEI efforts and their potential for creating safe spaces, Jay is committed to using her professional platform to create a world where queer role models are found everywhere, not just on a list on the internet.
Hena Faqurudheen - Hank Nunn Institute
Hena Faqurudheen is a mental health professional working at the intersection of trauma, relationships, and social justice. She holds a Master's in Social Work and Mental Health and a postgraduate diploma in Psychosocial Care and Support in Disaster Settings. Hena was awarded the Fulbright PLUS scholarship in 2005 and graduated in Experimental Psychology from the University of South Carolina. A psychotherapist at Hank Nunn Institute, they are now a group analyst-in-training and have made it their mission to build an equitably inclusive society.
Zubair Sher Singh Kalsia - Diageo
Zubair Sher Singh Kalsia is passionately engaged in creating awareness about HIV. Using social media to build community, he consistently engages with his ever-growing audience to reduce HIV-related stigma and discrimination. Currently working with Diageo, Zubair strives to create professional, safe, and equipped spaces for queers, HIV+ folx, and folx living with disabilities.
Raju Behara - Novartis
Yerram Raju Behara has been helping create a support system for hundreds of people and safer spaces for children. When they are not actively volunteering to impart their story, knowledge, and skill to those who need it most, they are researching key gene therapy domains. Raju is currently a Senior Analyst at Novartis and is often seen volunteering with groups like the All India Queer Association or writing articles to bring to light concerns that need immediate redressal.
Shivangi Agarwal - Thoughtworks
Shivangi Agrawal is a queer and disabled artist based in Delhi currently working as a Diversity and Inclusion Associate at Thoughtworks. For the last six years, she has produced work as a consultant, researcher, writer, and advisor at the intersection of disability, sexuality, gender, policy, arts, education, and accessibility. Work aside, Shivangi believes that the twin forces of art and advocacy can queer and transform spaces, allowing individuals to charter their own destinies. During our conversation, Shivangi contours the terrain of identity and makes a compelling case to rethink identity as a holistic collection of unique parts.
Tejaswi Subramanian - Neuroqueer Journalist & Researcher
Tejaswi (they/she) is a neuroqueer journalist and researcher. They offer sex-ed courses and promote gender awareness in order to co-create a tolerant and inclusive society. Tejaswi is the current editor of Gaysi Family, a queer-owned, queer-run media platform, and also curates sex-ed content for That Sassy Thing. Additionally, they serve as the Sexuality and Disability practice consultant for CREA, an international feminist and human rights organization. In conversation with egomonk, Tejaswi dishes out on misrepresenting neurodivergence and marginalized identities within the queer fold. While it may seem twice the odds are stacked against neurodivergent queers, Tejaswi shows us how it is done.
Tashi Choedup - Queer Buddhist Monastic
Over the past fourteen years, Tashi Choedup, a practicing Buddhist nunk (monk + nun), has contributed to human rights advocacy and community building. Tashi is a member of the Telangana State Welfare Board for Transgender Persons and works to create and sustain safe spaces for the transgender community. Using the power of maitri or friendship, they hope to cement the foundation of interpersonal and systemic relationships with equanimity and fraternity.
Sayantan Datta - KREA University
Sayantan Datta is a queer-trans science journalist, writer, and communicator on a mission to create inclusive spaces in the scientific world. They write at the intersections of science, gender, health, sexuality, and caste. Sayantan was a co-litigator with Vyjayanti Vasanta Mogli and KMV Monalisa in two public interest litigations at the Hyderabad High Court, of which one was successful in getting the draconian Telangana Eunuchs Act scrapped.
Saynatika Majumder - Flipkart
Sayantika Majumder actively works towards creating spaces for marginalized communities through peer-to-peer support networks. Lesbian and neurodivergent, Sayantika uses spoken word poetry to challenge and question heteronormative stereotypes. Currently, she is a part of the UX Design Team at Flipkart. Through a candid conversation, Sayantika visualizes a roadmap for survivors, neurodivergent queer folk, and anyone on the margins. By baring her vulnerability with us, she invites us, like she does other LGBTQIA+ community members, to co-create and imagine a better and kinder world.
Dr. Aqsa Shaikh - Human Solidarity Foundation
As one of the very few trans healthcare workers in the country, Dr. Aqsa Sheikh inspires many. Dr. Aqsa works as an Associate Professor of Community Medicine at Jamia Hamdard, Delhi. Her most recent achievement was being the only transgender person in India appointed as the nodal officer of a COVID vaccination center. A tireless champion of queer, trans, and minority rights, Dr. Aqsa is also an impassioned activist. Dedicated to making the lives of LGBTQ+ people better in the country, Dr. Aqsa is focused on actively engaging with the younger generations and creating a more progressive discourse in the country.
Shalini Devi - Sutherland
Shalini Devi is a Senior Associate Manager in talent brand marketing at Sutherland. Apart from her corporate life, she is also a professional long-distance biker and is always on the lookout for her next adventure. Harmoniously balancing work and play, Shalini seems to have figured out the practical recipe for catharsis as she pedals forward, queer and proud, in all her walks of life.
Manish Chopra - Amazon
Manish Chopra is an expert in the field of aesthetics. From magazines, fashion, space, and interior design to e-commerce, corporate branding, luxury, and mass marketing, he seems to have done it all. Since 2017, he has worked as Senior Art Director at Amazon. Apart from an enviable career trajectory, he is also an advocate of queer visibility and sports his queer identity with pride. Packing honesty, charisma, and honesty, Manish shares his journey so far to remind us that any space, when worked on enough, can set precedents for future change.
Manvendra Singh Gohil - Lakshya Trust
Manavendra Singh is one of the first royals in the world to come out as a member of the LGBTQ+ community openly. Christened the 'First Gay Prince of India,' he is also the founder and chairman of Lakshya Trust, an organization that works for the rights and welfare of the LGBTQ+ community. Winning hearts and charming people across the globe, Manavendra Singh has appeared on several international celebrity shows and met prominent politicians. He is dedicated to using his privilege and status for the betterment of queer folks in India.