The day started slow and sleepy. It was as if the excitement of the past many weeks had also gone to bed. I woke up, got dressed in the crisp flowery shirt I had specially purchased, and we were off.
Anxiety had crept in since it was going to be the first pride of my life and that too in the year when I came out to myself and the world.
Throughout the car ride, I was silent because I didn’t know what to expect. I had friends coming but I wasn’t sure how my parents would react to seeing them in all their sparkly glory- some trans, some gay, some gender non-conforming, all beautifully queer.
Upon reaching, we were greeted with methodical planning by the volunteers of the pride, as if preparing for battle. First aid kits, bottles of water and kind people in reflective vests, all adamant about ensuring that we had a good time.
I had my ‘love is love’ badge on and so did my parents, all smiling but also cautious of the plethora of the humanity that was slowly forming all around us.
Anxiety increased when we saw the massive coterie of cops that had gathered there. Stories of cops abusing queer people in love & harrowing tales of harassment flashed in my mind for a minute. Should I just go back home?
Were they there to keep us safe from the world or the world safe from us?
The cops outnumbered us for a while, their khaki clashing against our rainbow. The difference between the ‘normal’ and the ‘abnormal’ stark in our faces.
Balloons in hand, posters ready, we started marching after a long wait. If someone had zoomed out and seen us from space they would have seen a beeline of rainbows, of happiness & of rebellion slowly creeping from Tolstoy Marg to Jantar Mantar.
Anxiety eased as the crowds swelled, the beats of the dhol increased & we got into the rhythm. The chant of ‘azaadi!’, ‘azaadi!’ was our war cry, demanding the rights that the world had so often refused to bestow on us.
‘Cheen ke lenge hakk, pyaar se lenge azaadi!’ (We’ll snatch our rights, with love we’ll take our freedom)
Amidst the chaos and the clutter, I was at peace. It was as if I had climbed a mountain for the last year, falling often, bruising myself, and had finally reached the pinnacle. The feeling of accomplishment was upon me. In the chaos of colour, gowns and goth, the world was at a stand still and we were marching from the beginning of time and will go on marching till the end of time.
We were marching for Stonewall, we were marching for all the queer babies that will be born, creating a safe world for them. A world where ‘coming out’ wouldn’t be necessary, where loving is simple and laughter in abundance. We were marching for all the kids who had died because of abuse, bullying, and for being different. We were marching because even though our lives were different, some easier than others, we all knew in our heart of hearts, the pain of being deemed different, abnormal and perverse.
The sea of humanity flowed onwards and I flowed with it. Somehow, in those thousands, all happy and gay, I was finally home.