3rd June 2018. A seemingly normal Sunday like any other Sunday until I came to know a few weeks ago, that the 8th Pune Pride was scheduled to happen then. There has never been a question of me going to pride. Ever since I first went in 2014 at Mumbai, it’s always been that one place I made sure I lost my voice, made friends more quicker than I could say ‘pride’, learnt new slogans and chants, danced my heart out and just have always enjoyed being in the moment, in that collective electricity.
And I intended to do the same for Pune as well. But I knew, this time was different. All the prides I’ve been to are spaces where my parents weren’t present. But this time over, I was staying with my parents in Pune and I told them I’m going for pride. ‘What is it?’, they asked. And I told them in the best way I knew how that its a political rally for the rights of LGBTQIA+ individuals, but it’s also a celebration of our identity, which is why it’s called ‘Pride’- because we are proud.
Having been out to my parents for some time, I didn’t expect any resistance, and I didn’t expect any excitement either. Like my sexual and gender identity, this too was just some random thing happening in my life that they chose to stay unbothered about. As long as Pooja was making sure she studies, let her do whatever in terms of personal activities, was their mantra. Fair enough.
The day of the pride came, and I still didn’t know what I was painting on my face. A part of pride I have always personally loved was getting to paint my face. You can walk the pride for any reason, so I painted a lightning bolt with the colours of a trans flag for trans-visibility and painted my eyebrows violet to pink because why not. My dad was eating breakfast meanwhile and had an expression of disapproval on his face, when my mom said ‘It’s pride no, they do all this’. Can be taken as a save or a miss, I guess. Thanks mom. I decided to keep it simple with a basic polo style tee shirt and torn jeans- aiming at friendly neighbourhood lesbian and left the house in an Ola.
The entire time I was in the rickshaw, I bit my nails and felt restless. This was the first time I was going to Pride without close friends beside me and I kept rethinking about going. I then decided to hide under the ‘here for work’ cover- saying I’m going to pride to cover the event on behalf of Gaysi. That’s part of why I went, but that shouldn’t be the only reason a queer person goes to pride *rolls eyes*.
Without knowing 99% of the people, I wondered how I was going to navigate this place. I reached Sambhaji Park on JM road and I knew pride was here. People were dressed in their quirkiest and finest. It felt like home, even though I looked like a lost pup. The first person I spoke to, I looked at their Namma Pride tee-shirt and asked them whether they were from Bangalore. The second was a fellow photographer while I too, was clicking away.
The rest were all happy souls, as I walked with Pride for the entire time, losing my voice, dancing, squealing, looking at passers-by with a ‘What you lookin’ at?’ expression, learning new slogans in new languages and feeling the electricity surge through me.