A rainbow of surprises

The first Pride Parade post the SC judgement on Article 377 had a different enthusiasm that leaves many of us hopeful for a lot more positive changes in the future

Sans fear, I felt like a free bird whose wings no one could clip. There was not even an iota of tension in my mind. This is how unfazed the 2018 LGBT Pride Parade that took place in the capital last week, made me feel.

Even though I have come out of the closet, I still face several hurdles. For a person who had to deal with self-doubt as a teenager, staying clear of inhibitions has not been easy. But the Pride Parade made me feel different – it gave me a sense of confidence about my identity.

As soon as I reached Tolstoy Marg — the starting point for the parade — a multitude of rainbow flags welcomed me. The sound of dhols perked up the vibe of the parade – bindaas and loud. Even the people looking out of their fancy offices in the Lutyens zone could feel it.

My friends and colleagues who were there for the parade thought I’ll be as nonchalant as I usually am — but that day I was at odds with my wonted ways. In a country like India, people shy away from discussing their sexuality. Also, active participation in such events is still not seen in a good light. I could sense that some people were fearful of being clicked. But I decided to keep the worries aside and enjoy the day. After all, being gay is no longer an offence, thanks to our progressive Supreme Court.

Almost every other person was dressed up like it’s their wedding day — faces glowing with makeup and beautiful men and women clad in fancy dresses. There’s no judging, no body shaming, just one vibe to follow — GAY.

I was also in for another pleasant surprise at this parade – there were fewer people wearing eye masks this time. For me, this was synonymous with empowerment. It was also a reflection of how we might be heading to a world where people can be open about their sexual orientation without the fear of being judged.

As the procession began, the streets became abuzz with onlookers waiting to catch a glimpse of the joyful and carefree crowd. From auto wallahs stopping their autos and jumping onto the divider to tea stall owners gazing at the procession, I witnessed it all.

The beats of dhols didn’t slow down, and neither did the energy of the crowd. The culmination of the parade was only the beginning of a movement — where efforts will continue to be made for equal rights.

After the parade, my mother’s reaction too, was a sign of how things are changing. She knew I would participate in the parade because she thinks being liberal is a part of my profession. I always thought that being a Punjabi mother, she would tend to comply with the societal norms. But to my surprise, she said, “Why did you not take me along?”

My mind was suddenly weighed down by thoughts. Before I could digest what she had just said, she went a step ahead and asked me to show her the pictures. Her eyes were gleaming with joy as she scrolled through my phone gallery, watching videos of me and my friends dancing.
When I told her that not many parents would say that, she stayed mum for a few seconds and said, “I know how conservative some parents are, but some are not.”

She’s one of them. For me, she became the hero of the parade. I thanked her for being so understanding.

It’s true that many parents in the first place are not even comfortable with the idea of their children attending the pride parade, but that attitude did not deter society’s progress in the past, nor will it ever in the future.

As late American jazz trumpeter and composer Miles Davis once said — “Sometimes you have to play a long time to be able to play like yourself.” We shall, and we will. The next Pride may bring greater surprises, I cling to that hope, do you?

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