Mumbai's Gay Pride Parade or Queer Azaadi March (QAM) brushes off recent disappointments. Activists say fight must go on
Mumbai’s Gay Pride Parade march took off at approximately 4 pm on Saturday afternoon beginning at August Kranti Maidan (Gowalia Tank). Winding its way through Nana Chowk, Lamington Road and finally Opera House, the parade ended just a little after 5 pm.
Trail-Blazer: Ashok Row Kavi
Creative posters continue to be the hallmark of the Pride parade. Yesterday, we had: “Homosexuality is not a choice; Discrimination Is.’ Another said: ‘I can’t believe I have to protest for this’ and yet another, “Main Karoon Toh Saala Character Dheela Hai’ and ‘Leela Chahe Sheela/Ya Ram Chahe Sham/Hum Logon ke Love Mein/Duniya Ka Kya Kaam?’
One saw a significant number of foreigners at the QAM. There was a French woman Isabelle (some have first names only in this piece) who has been in Mumbai before for Pride. “I felt this time it is more political,” she said. Melbourne girl Rebecca, who is married to an Indian man and lives in Mumbai, says she has been following developments somewhat and was there for support.
Belle Well: Isabelle from Europe. Pics/ Suresh KK
Talking about politics, Paalav Patankar sporting rainbow colours, stated, “Yes, the verdicts have thrown us to the vagaries of the politicians and despite some dark days the Pride is always celebratory.”
Bright side: Paalav Patankar
New Delhi’s activist Leslie was in Mumbai for the march and was the focus of cameras with her banner ‘Collecting funds for GuwaTRAILBLAZER: Ashok Row Kavi-hati Pride’. Gay Pride makes its debut in the Assam capital on February 9. Go Gay-hati.
Gandhi caps made an appearance with the slogans: ‘Mein gay hoon, I am gay’ emblazoned on them. Same sex couple, Radhe K and Jayesh D sported them with pride.
SoBo resident Anish claimed it was ironical seeing the police, who usually arrests them thanks to Section 377, actually protecting the community during the march. Zara and Harsh sported colourful wigs, adding to that heady feeling of freedom.
Chitra Palekar, the mother of a gay woman, claimed that there was so much support from straight people that it was truly heartwarming. “Why should the issue not become politicised?” she asked.
Sonal and Harish Iyer invited applause with their armour-like attire. Sonal claimed their costume was apt as it was a ‘jung’ they were fighting. “Verdicts cannot push people back into the closet or make them invisible,” she stated.
Battle Ready: Sonal and Harish Iyer in armour
While to put him last may be ironical, given that Ashok Row Kavi is known as the first gay activist of India, we have no choice but to sign off with the irrepressible Kavi. After a little while, the pink-shirted Kavi, was leading the march, with the younger lot parting ways in deference perhaps for the man who has fought so hard and long for the gay cause. Asked whether he ever thought he would walk down the streets of Nana Chowk, festooned with rainbows and leading a crowd of gay people belting out the bhangra, Ashok laughed. “It is a time for reflection of how far we have arrived. I remember when the movie Fire was halted because of its lesbian theme, I walked to Sena Bhavan in defiance all alone. One person, followed by two police vans! I wonder what they thought one person would do.”