“Homo Hetero Bhai Bhai” rang one slogan at the Queer Pride assembled at Barakhamba Road on Sunday. A sizable share of the support at the rally was from heterosexuals. Rather than concentrate on lesbian/gay rights solely, the pride acknowledged and celebrated variety in gender with this year’s theme: Genders.
Walking in to the pride, one was welcomed with a shower of rainbows: scarves, badges, balloons were handed to supporters to brighten up their outfit. Meanwhile many had dressed up for the parade, head to toe, from rainbow hats to rainbow socks.
The pride flaunted colour and music, and a little bit of magic where strangers smiled and made easy conversation. “I came out to my parents,” was the easiest personal story to share. Masks were also available both to add colour and provide anonymity.
Cameras whirred away at the periphery of the crowd that was estimated to have reached around 1,500, with journos and onlookers capturing all the color and costumes. Baba Ramdev who decried homosexuality and yet wore salwar kameez once to escape the police was also ribbed by some with chants “Baba Ramdev, Salwar Kameez kahaan chupaiyi?” (“Where’s the salwar kameez now, Baba Ramdev?”). I spotted another poster board which was eliciting much laughter that read: “We are adorable, why hate us?”
Those often subject to unwelcome scrutiny for cross-dressing relished the paparazzi attention at the pride, where many complimented their style.
The pride ended at Jantar-Mantar, the pleading ground for many a cause that vied for attention over loud-speakers; none were as colourful. Demands listed at the pride stage were few and clear, acknowledging gender as a spectrum rather than stereotypes of masculinity/femininity into which one was subjected either through social pressure or through more extreme forms of coercion such as surgical interventions or violence.
The stage was opened to audience, where a variety of causes were taken up: a call to arms in dropping all masks and celebrating one’s identity, a declaration of love by a young man who invited all of the pride members to his forthcoming wedding (receiving much applause and hooting), and a call to join the protest at the embassy of Uganda (met with more muted enthusiasm), where a bill legalizing persecution of homosexuals, including a death penalty for ‘aggravated homosexuality’ is being passed.