Take Pride In Self Acceptance

Mihir Maher is a physiotherapist and is open about his own sexuality. He is an LGBTQI+ activist and Director of Advocacy at Impulse Mumbai, a volunteer group that creates awareness on HIV/STIs, Mental Health & Drugs Abuse for the LGBTQIA+ community. The Unhurry® team had the privilege of interviewing him to mark June as pride month at Unhurry®. We are proud that Mihir is also part of our esteemed jury for The Restore Awards™️ 2022. Excerpts below:

Mihir Maher, Physiotherapist & Director of Advocacy, Impulse Mumbai

How did you break the news of your being gay to your parents?

I was in my mid twenties and pressure of marriage had started building up. I always knew about my sexuality and didn’t want to keep anyone in dark. One fine day I sat down over tea with my mom and told her that “Mom I am gay!”,

I was waiting for melodrama but to my surprise she took it in a right spirit and helped me open up about my sexuality to my family.

After that there was no looking back, I came out to many near and dear ones in my friend circle and family. I can say my coming out journey was like a s “cakewalk.”

What are the top 3 issues faced by the people of your community which are discriminatory? 

The biggest issue is homophobia which LGBTQ+ folks face on day today basis due to misinformation about LGBTQ+ community in the mindset of people. This homophobia can go from verbal abuse to physical abuse. It’s a daily battle.

The other common issue community people face from their family members is “dragging them to guilt trip” using emotional situations, blame game, religious references, health issues of parents and connecting all that with the sexuality of the LGBTQ+ individuals and try to prove that everything is going south due to their sexuality and they the need to fix it if they want everything fine.

Last but not the least is “Stereotyping”, the society makes assumptions as per their own vague or zero knowledge about LGBTQ+ community. They will expect us to behave or dress in a certain ways as they have seen on television/ movies to believe that we are gay/queer.

How do you help the people of the community through your volunteer work? 

I am associated as a volunteer in an organisation called Impulse Mumbai, we help to provide free HIV & Syphilis testing to community folks at various events we organise around HIV/ STI awareness, mental health issues, drug abuse and social equity. We also have a strong social media presence, we use social media to spread awareness around the above mentioned issues which community face on a regular basis. 

I am also associated with LGBTQ + specific photography group called QGraphy, I believe that art is the best therapy to heal any issues. Photography as a skill/ hobby help to create happy memories in one’s life. We help community members in mastering their skills of photography by weekly photography theme competitions, photo walks and we try to cover LGBTQ+ events and create happy memories for the community.

June is Pride month, what is your message to the LGBTQI+ community to take Pride in self acceptance?

Author Brené Brown wrote in her book, “Daring Greatly”,

“Because true belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance.” 

If you aren’t comfortable with your sexual orientation, other people will in turn find it difficult to accept you completely. Working on self acceptance will boost your confidence and the way you come across to others. Remember you have right to love who you want and no one can take that away from you. 

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