“Aabad shehron se shehr-e-jaan aabad honge,
Ku-ba-ku, dar-b-dar, tum dekhna, ishq ke naare honge.”
Walking in the Queer Pride Parade was a testimony to the piecemeal ways we had mapped the cartography of Ahmedabad. Passing by images of Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel, Gandhi and Vikram Sarabhai felt like we were adding our voices not only to the streets but to the history of the city. Handing out little notes about ally-ship, queer and Trans lives in Gujarati and English to the passers-by felt like we were painting the city with new ways of thinking- creating nuggets of change in the minds of people. Amid the loud slogans of “Brahmanvad se Azadi”, “Queer hone ki aazadi” I lost my voice to, I saw multiple emotions harboring faces simultaneously- the pure joy with rage, tears of resistance and hard-work, a realization of pain and pride.
Pride was not only interpreted as being proud of one-self, but it was also about collectively standing up against pervasive shame. It was about reclaiming the streets where our rage was neither minuscule nor was it minor in its shades. Having been part of Queerabad’s effort to create conversation around and about queer lives in Ahmedabad from the beginning, the three-day event was an overwhelming experience-a fitting culmination of a wonderful beginning. The DIY nature of the efforts of the group was exemplified in everything that was part of the event. From decorations to the zines, the booklets and the posters, open mics and finally, the Pride- everything had a spontaneity to it, emanating from a well-realized urge for a much-needed change.
A healthy dialogue about theory and praxis, resisting reality and real-life resistance, poetry, and prose, films and songs were a part of this effort which made it an un/learning experience. With rigorous discussions for two days preceding the vigorous voicing of our presence through Pride, the duality of the way we read lives and are read daily became apparent to me. From grappling with larger questions of our ways of thinking to walk for our ways of being- it became an event that will take a long time to sink in. We walked between two legendary art centers, Kanoria and Darpana, bringing together Queerabad’s focus on the arts to create change. We danced, sang and even painted ourselves with colors and added a different tinge to the artistic hue of the “heritage city.” It was a rather polluted day but nothing was more clarifying than getting to be the way we want to, albeit knowing that this has resulted after encounters with different kinds of resisting forces. We reached Darpana for a Queer mela and most of us met new people, with similar ways of thinking or rekindled old friendships reuniting on the streets. Different walks of life came together in this walk for lives, and it left all of us exhausted in the best way possible. Exhaustion was met with happiness and also with a realization that there is so much to be done. The walk may have ended today, but there is a long road ahead. Yet, what energized us is the fact that we knew with an utter surety that in this fight, we won’t be walking alone.