The Rainbow Alliance

It started as an idea that came from a casual conversation with a few queer students about growing up as LGBTQIA+ members of the MISP community. We’d fortunately never had the garden-variety, violent, stealing-your-lunch-money bullying that so many other queer friends of ours had encountered at more traditional Indian schools. However, where we should have had spaces to find security and community, there was instead a cold, unspoken rejection from our peers that came largely from a lack of information. I realized that MISP was in dire need of a space in its community for LGBTQIA+ individuals and allies—we could call it the Rainbow Alliance! I brought the idea to the small group of students who would eventually become the first members of the RA, and we recruited our then secondary school counselor to be the supervisor of our little team.

We discovered that this concept was by no means a new one, and that many schools had established spaces for queer students and allies, called GSAs, or Gender-Sexuality Alliances. And so began weeks of research to turn an idea and a name into MISP’s very first GSA. We ultimately decided that of the three possible core objectives that a GSA could have: self-education, advocacy and community—we’d be going for all of them. A month or so later, with the turn of the semester, the ‘Rainbow Alliance’ joined the ranks of the CCA sign-up list, and with 3 whole sign-ups, we were in business!

For those first few meetings, it was almost impossible to tell if we were really making any progress, and I worried that people would be bored or uncomfortable, especially since having to meet virtually made it harder still to connect. Over time, though, through cheesy icebreakers and countless moments of trial and error—and more awkward virtual silences than I care to admit—we went from the group of strangers from different grades that had hesitantly introduced ourselves on day one to a real community: the Rainbow Alliance.

Returning to school in-person marked a milestone for the RA, and over the time that has since elapsed, we’ve managed to see off members from a graduating class, double our size, design a logo, create two workshops for primary and secondary faculty about gender and pronouns, and host a giant fundraiser in the form of a pride-month carnival to raise money for the Humsafar trust, an LBGTQIA+ charity organization that worked to improve conditions for the Hijra community during the pandemic.

Founding the RA as a safe space for LGBTQIA+ members of the MISP community was an endeavor that I had hardly dared to hope would take root in the way that it did. Today, the Rainbow Alliance has expanded far beyond the scope of a CAS project and emerged as something that I am proud to say will continue to grow and evolve long after I have graduated.