If you happened to pass by Sambhaji Park on June 11, you would have easily spotted a mass of people celebrating and supporting the LGBT community. The Pride Parade stretched from Sambhaji Park to Deccan and further moved to FC Road and finally came to a halt at the Park again. The unity and solidarity shown by people demanding equal rights and elimination of Section 377 was phenomenal. And the group did not necessarily include people from the community. Several activists, IT companies, foreigners and interestingly older folks who we think are regressive were also there to show their support.
The Pride Parade had confident individuals who had no qualms about expressing themselves and revealing their identity. One guy had beautifully draped a saree and carried it off with great elegance. Another experimented with his look by dressing like a boy and a girl, displaying the true meaning of bisexuality. You could also spot a unicorn, colourful wigs and towering heels in the crowd.
One of the allies, who came out to show support to the community said, “The objective is to create awareness and a bit of sensitisation across the community. Just listening or having conversations in the office is not helping. I represent a company which is now allying with the LGBT community to bring more awareness in the teams. But for the general public, unfortunately, it is not something that is easily accepted, so they are trying to educate the people through this march. People are slowly accepting them.”
The march was also a protest against the controversial Section 377 which criminalises the LGBT community. A lot of people have already raised questions over the archaic law. While sharing his thoughts about the march, a member from the gay community said, “These marches and Pride walks will create some awareness. If the whole world is now slowly accepting us, then why not India? India is a little conservative when it comes to offering acceptance. We are moving at a much slower pace as compared to the rest of the world. We still have British laws while the Britishers themselves abolished Section 377 long ago. America and even Ireland, which is a small country, have legalised same-sex marriages. People should accept us — that’s what we are demanding. There is nothing wrong with us, it is not a disease which will spread all over.”
But it was not just the people from the community who spoke against the historic law, many activists also voiced their opinion about love being equal for all and it shouldn’t be treated like a crime. Activist Manisha Gupte says, “I have attended all the marches that have been organised so far. Homosexuality, transgenders exist in all parts of India, including rural areas. Discrimination against them is global and since it is happening locally, we have to act locally as well. These marches do create support and more and more people are coming forward. Section 377 is extremely regressive. Earlier, India did not have this attitude towards sexuality. Khajuraho, Kamasutra... have been here for centuries. We were absolutely okay with homosexuality before the Britishers came who then penalised homosexuals. So if we have been independent for so many years, why are we still following the British law?”
Holding banners which said: ‘Some people are gay, get over it’, ‘Keep your laws off my body, my body my laws’, ‘I am gay and that’s okay’, etc people were proudly snapchatting and posting pics online to garner more attention for the march.
Ellora from Germany, who joined the march, said, “I think it is important to show support and have a conversation with people openly. These marches can actively create awareness amongst people. The change is happening slowly but there is still a lot of work to be done.