Ranaka is currently a member of Heart to Heart Lanka organization and also a member of Young Out Here group in Sri Lanka. He is also a member of the Youth Technical Advisory Committee of Family Planning Association in Sri Lanka. 24 years old, Ranaka can be introduced as someone very comfortable in his own Skin. Being out and about with his life, Ranaka considers that advocacy comes in different forms and shapes and one of his ways is to live life as he wants.
“I believe that people should be given an opportunity to get to know us. Most often fear is generated because of ignorance. By opening a door for people to look in to my life, I not only make an impressions about myself, but also about my sexuality that leads long lasting positive changes” says Ranaka explaining about his method of changing the world.
Ranaka also believes that most often the needs of young people, especially from the key populations, have been reduced to health. ”As young people, our needs are far more complex. These cannot be reduced to a mere HIV or STI test” says Ranaka. Ranaka’s small scale project aims to raise the voices of young gay men and young transgender people in Sri Lanka to advocate with the health services to provide holistic and comprehensive services for young gay men and young transgender people moving beyond a mere HIV test. “These include services such as hormonal therapy, support and counselling on issues such as coming out, disclosure to families, sexual violence and abuse, intimate partner or violence from family members and etc. “If the services can provide us these services or adopt an effective referral system, I believe more young people will be visiting them and thus HIV and STI tests become complementary”, he further mentioned explaining his idea.
Ranaka will work with the Heart to Heart Youth group to develop a video about what young gay men and young transgender people need from health services. This video will be used to raise awareness among services providers and policy makers. He will also use the video to initiate advocacy discussions with services providers to explore means of bringing positive changes to the health services.
Written by Niluka Perera.