Queer people in Bangalore, Delhi, Chennai and Bhubaneswar today celebrated their ‘being’ under a rainbow colored flag. Gays, lesbians, kothis, hijras, intersexs, transsexuals and straight people walked the streets in large numbers amidst busy traffic dancing, laughing giggling, posing for the numerous photographers…and mostly, being proud of whoever they were in their ‘weirdest’ state of being.
In Bangalore the march started from National Law College and passed through Minerva Circle to reach Town Hall.
One of the brightest and most colorful processions one could witness, it had people dressed in traditional saris and jewelries to micro-minis to off shoulders and sexy tattoos. They had all painted rainbows on their bodies and faces. Some of them wore masks some didn’t.
A three wheeler with a loud speaker led the march with one of the participants chanting slogans like, “Hindu Muslim Sikh Isai, Hetro Homo Bhai Bhai;” “Gay hua to kya hua, pyaar hua ikraar hua;” “One two three four, open up your closet door, five six seven eight, don’t assume your kid is straight.”
The rest of the near thousand people followed the three-wheeler chanting the slogans over and over again. Most of them carried placards and posters with witty lines like, “Gay ho – Jai ho;” “Section 377 sucks” “I am the pink sheep of my family” “Welcome to Ben-gay-luru” and more.
Somewhere behind were 3-4 drummers beating their drums producing an amazingly contagious energy and the colorful people danced to the drum beats like there was no tomorrow.
Photographers, many from the media and many more who just wanted to document the event and show their support, chased the sexy dancers to capture their best moments. And the participants were more than happy to pose for them, give them their best looks.
They danced, they sang, they raised slogans, they teased, they flaunted, they giggled, they shied away, they rejoiced and they smiled. A smile that came from within reflecting the sheer joy they felt in walking for an event that was about their being. It was a day they walked without fear looking straight at common people’s eyes giving a message loud and clear, “Look at me, I exist, how long are you going to ignore me, how long would you call me a freak, how long would you turn your face away when I try to talk, how long will you call me unnatural?”
The joy and festivity of the march stays with you even after you have left the venue and then you are forced to think, “How is it going to help the humanity if those smiles are turned into tears? How is it going to help God’s scheme of things if these beautiful hearts are crushed, their existence denied and their right to love and marry a person of their own choice snatched.”
About the cause…
Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code is a law which tries to do exactly all that. It is a law that wants to and every day does crush millions of such colorful hearts and souls, in this country, whose only crime is that they want to love a person who had similar genitals like they do.
The religious leaders say it is unnatural for a man to love another man or a woman to love another woman because they don’t contribute to nature’s growth, in other words they do not procreate.
By that logic human beings are nothing more than a penis and a vagina whose only purpose is to produce babies.
The saddest part about this law is that it made India go back 100s of years in time.
Homosexuality, men having sex with men, men having sex with eunuchs and drags, had always been accepted in India. The Khajuraho temple, Konark Sun Temple and the Kamasutra are the living examples of that acceptance. Oral sex and anal sex are explicitly depicted in the temple sculptors and Kamasutra.
Hinduism as a religion doesn’t have any say in sexual performance unlike other holy books where a certain type of sexuality is labeled as sin.
It was in 1860 that the British rulers introduced this alien concept to us, that anal sex are unnatural and that it must meet criminal consequences, without having any regard to our thousands of years old culture and without having any regard to something called consent.
And why would they give regard to culture, tradition or even consent, the law was after all meant to control Indians, the dirty uncivilized natives, who didn’t know what is right or wrong for themselves, why would the super lords care about the native’s consent if they thought anal sex was wrong that was it.
Just think how dumb must a nation be that it is still living with this law which was designed with the very purpose of suppressing its own culture and people. When the British introduced this law they thought Indians were barbaric, un-cultured, obscene, they have such books and temples that talks about sexuality, they must be set right by imposing strict laws. Thus came a law that went against our own expression of sexuality.
British were gone but we continued with their laws. Not just that some of us are so dumb that they now think being homosexual is against Indian Culture. These queer pride parades are a way to remind the law makers of this country that they cannot keep this unjust law and continue violating the citizen’s basic right to chose their sexuality.
The ignorant in the fool’s paradise…
In the March today a friend and I approached the curious onlookers standing either side of the march and asked them if they knew what the march was about and if they supported the cause.
First we approached this 3-wheeler, the driver had just been handed a Bangalore Queer Pride pamphlet which he was going through quite attentively. We asked him if he knew what the pride was about. He had read the pamphlet by then and said he knew and that he surely supported the cause. Behind him in the passenger seat were sitting 3 ladies, one in her 50s the other 2 relatively much younger may be late 20s to mid 30s, the youngest one had a baby. All decked up head to toe in traditional white body golden border sari, gold jewelry, jasmine gajras, bindis etc.
I asked them, “Mam do you know what is this marching all about?”
The older lady said “No” with a smile.
I then turned to the younger ones and said, “Did you read the pamphlet?” They gave a quick look at the pamphlet again but didn’t react at all except a confused smile.
I said, “Mam this is gay pride parade.”
“What is gay?”
“Mam, homosexual, people loving people of same sex, boy loves boy, girl loves girl, that type? You know?”
The lady now gave an even bigger and terribly embarrassed smile, and shook her head in negation with a big “Noooooooo.”
The whole thing was so symbolic, these women in their white saris all decked up and perfect like nothing in the world can touch them, living in their own world without a clue about the other rainbow colored world.
I took a quick look at the baby and thought if only she had heard that part of the slogan more carefully, “Five six seven eight, don’t assume your kid is straight.”
How do we intervene in their perfect world?
These pride parades that are being held annually is definitely a big step in that regard. New York would be holding its 40th annual Gay pride parade. India’s first gay pride parade was held in 1999, Delhi and Bangalore would be holding their 2nd parade, Chennai 1st and perhaps Bhubaneswar also its first parade. That’s how many years behind we are but we are definitely have a strong movement.
More cities should join in the queer pride celebrations every year. One common platform is required for the queer people of all over the nation, their protest activities should be concerted, united they should stand.
Media would play a big role which includes us bloggers too.
Films and television are the other great media particularly the Saas Bahu serials. Put a gay character in one them, perhaps call it “Kuyunki Saas meri lesbian thi.”
I can go on but may be another day. This was my first gay pride parade and trust me I am not saying it for the heck of it I really feel my life is so much more colorful now.
I will continue writing about the queer issues in the coming days, so keep an eye on this space.
More photos on Vinayak Das’s Flickr Stream