Recently the Delhi Queer Pride and the Mumbai Queer Pride successfully completed their 10th innings. It has been quite a glorious journey of 10 long years since the LGBTIQA+ community has started to feel empowered and with the help of numerous NGOs, support groups, and corporate organizations, it has been staging flaring demonstrations of the rich history and diversity of their queer lives, their existence, and celebration of their identities. They stand united against oppression and violence against the community and also, commemorate the years’ long struggle of getting ridiculed, bullied, beaten, raped, and considered non-existent. Held across major cities in India and many countries abroad, these marches demonstrate that they are not a miniscule minority. The struggle for acceptance in the society has been going on since years, but the flamboyant display of themselves, their lives, is mostly about attempting to establish their truth and dispel the myth of their image created or assumed by the society. The truth that they are a bunch of happy, harmless people and are as “normal” as any and the rest of the society; that homosexuality isn’t a clinical disorder or unnatural and definitely need not be a taboo. The community demands the much vaunted omission of section 377, from the Indian Penal Code, which by its very nature of existence criminalizes any kind of homosexual relationship. The community puts forth the need for a life with equal rights and dignity –one, that a citizen of this country ought to enjoy.
The Queer Pride Walk is a parade for diversity, acceptance, solidarity and resistance. Members from the community, their support groups, allies, proud parents and many more who collectively work towards a future without discrimination and prejudice, march together on the day to inspire, educate, support and promote an open, free and equal society. Through these pride walks it is demanded that the central government takes action and create anti-discrimination policies to ensure zero harassment of all minorities, whether sexual, religious or gender-based. The message and intention is loud and clear that there will be absolutely zero tolerance about getting criminalized in their own land.
I have been attending the Delhi Queer Pride for 7 years now and recently also attended the Mumbai Queer Pride for the first time. It was such a happy and a colourful environment that I could not stop myself from not only walking the pride but, also mingling with the community members and be a part of their celebration in all its glory. The support groups like Humsafar Trust, Harmless Hugs, Impulse New Delhi, Sveekar (group of proud parents of LGBT kids) and many more were present in thousand of numbers. The passers-by looked on happily, clicked pictures, video-graphed the merry festivities and were absolutely thrilled to witness such a huge display of solidarity. This is a proof of change of the Indian mentality -from homophobic to homo-accepting, if not homophilic.
There is no need to be afraid anymore, if you are queer, please talk to a friend, someone in your support system or walk up to one of the numerous support groups available and you will definitely find acceptance. One piece of advice to the young generation though –Understand that change is a slow process. Accept it. Please do not rush or be too eager to “come out” to your family and friends about your sexual orientation if you are not sure. Every picture might not be rosy right away. Instead, educate them, educate yourself, make time your friend and surely, acceptance by those who truly matter, will be yours.
About the author – Abhishek Verma is a Diversity & Inclusion leader at HCL. He is enthusiastic about life in general. He loves cycling, photography and travelling.