CEO and founder of Goa Rainbow Trust, Chris Fernandes came out of the closet and today through his NGO is working for the cause of equality for the LGBTQ+ community. NT KURIOCITY spoke to Chris to know about his journey and more
RAMANDEEP KAUR | NT KURIOCITY
Mapusa-based Chris Fernandes was seven-years-old when he realised that he was attracted to girls in his school and as the years progressed he was more keen and interested in dating only girls. Born a female and previously known as Christine M Fernandes, he renamed himself Chris as he feels more masculine and has openly accepted his sexual orientation.
Thus, in order to work for the cause of equality for the LGBTQ+ community, Chris started advocating the rights of the LGBTQ+ community in 2013 when he managed to gather a few members of the community and held their first meeting as Goa Rainbow Trust. In 2018, he got the Goa Rainbow Trust, an NGO (non-profit organisation) registered.
Sharing how he came out to his friends and family, Chris says that one fine day after the constant pressure from his parents to get married, he decided to tell them that he is interested in women and didn’t want anything to do with a man/male. “My parents were shocked, surprised and angry at the same time, and it eventually took them some months to come to terms with the facts of my orientation,” he says and mentions that he is also a pet groomer and a veterinarian nurse by profession.
Today his parents and family are very supportive of him and his journey through which he aims to create a platform to support and guide students, reach out to those in slums with healthcare facilities and unite the LGBTQ+ community in Goa.
And in a country like India where homosexuality has always been a subject of discussion and was illegal back then, challenges were obvious. Chris says that due to Section 377 still being enforced, a lot of people still do feel insecure about attending such meetings as they fear their families or friends will notice them with such a group that was once deemed as an outcast. “With time, and ever since Goa started its first Pride Walk/Pride Parade, people are slowly making an effort to understand the LGBTQ+ Community and the turnouts each time are growing in number,” he adds. Through his NGO, they have also had a few social events to bring the community together, seminars and meet and greets in colleges to help people and students understand them through interactive conversations.
Commenting on how accepting society is of the LGBTQ community, Chris says: “Society today is slowly beginning to understand that they (LGBTQ+ Community) exist as well, and they are just as normal as the rest.” However, Chris feels there are still a lot of people who are unwilling to unlearn the wrong ideas about the community they have been fed with.
Chris believes that change starts with oneself which is then imparted to others, starting from one’s home. “Education then plays its role in raising positive awareness and promoting acceptance. Finally, workplaces also aid in inclusiveness and promotion of equality. All in all, diversity is a part of nature, but division is not,” he concludes.