Growing up is never easy, each of us having to juggle the modalities of career, friendship, familial and other responsibilities, and relationships of every stripe. Given all that, for those who don’t fit in the heteronormative narrative, the whole process is as painful as puberty itself. Enter The Second Puberty (TSP). Launched on June 30, the last day of Pride Month, TSP is the brainchild of Venika Menon, Dale O’ Connell, and Shivangi Agrawal; a freely accessible online resource for anyone coming to terms with their sexual identities and orientations. Their website (thesecondpuberty. com) is, for the moment, a simple Q&A resource for life’s more complex questions, with the site having already garnered close to a 100 questions, most of which are “asked in good faith, and come from genuine place of needing understanding.”
The trio admits that there are the odd trolling questions, but these have been few and far in between. The more problematic questions deal with sexual violence and or fantasies of the same, meaning the three of them have to gauge the suitability of entertaining such questions, even the ones that may be sincere.
The site has a list of guidelines on the content and framing of questions, so that everyone is on the same page of what is kosher. While all three have full-time jobs, this passion project sees them carefully poring over every query that comes their way. The entire project is emphatically a team effort, with all three founders thoroughly discussing each question and collectively giving the asker the most comprehensive reply.
“We are not experts and we are very clear about that. However, thanks to our experiences and self-discovery, we hope to be able to provide at least some direction to those who are navigating their sexual and interpersonal identities,” says Menon, a queer woman who works as an activist, currently working with a Ghanaian organisation combatting child trafficking and slavery. That being said, the trio hope that TSP eventually becomes a one-stop resource for those with questions and others that can answer them.
“What we eventually want this to become is the place anyone in the country, and indeed the world, can to come to for help and be assured of a community of like-minded people who’ve been through similar self-doubt and hopefully come out of it,” says O’ Connell, who identifies as trans masc and is working as a web developer in Canada. Agrawal, who is queer and disabled, has had to struggle past the dual problems of her sexual identity and physical condition.
The activist, accessibility consultant and graffiti artist explains, “While growing up, there was no resource like this which I could turn to for all the questions and self-doubts I had. And so, we hope this project makes sure that adolescents and young adults don’t have the same lack of people to ask for advice or even just comfort. And we don’t want this to be an exclusive, English-only sort of set-up; I hope we can incorporate questions from different regions and in different languages, as we grow.” Amen.