Gujarat’s first Gay Pride parade is being held today in Surat with just five words of caution to its participants — ‘No Vulgarity’ and ‘No anti-government speeches’. Hundreds of people from the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community of Mumbai are already on their way to Surat to lend their support.
Swagat Shah, the organiser of the Gujarat Pride festival, claims that not only hundreds of people from Gujarat are participating in the parade but also people from Mumbai have confirmed their presence at the event.
Mumbai’s LGBT community is upbeat about participating in the parade. “It’s nice to see Surat, the cultural hub of Gujarat, host the state’s first gay pride parade. It is a moment for all of us to rise up and understand that when we are a part of a culture, our sexuality is a part of it, too,” said Harish Iyer, an equal rights activist.
Members of the LGBT community are happy that this parade will demystify the myth that gays and lesbians are found only in big cities. “It’s very encouraging that smaller cities such as Surat are starting their own pride walks. It’s essential to move beyond the big cities and show that being gay is not a Western concept. I hope this brings greater visibility to our cause,” said Sibi M, a member of Humsafar Trust’s support group for the youth, Yaariyan.
Meanwhile, quite a few women from the city are headed to the parade march too. “As a bisexual woman, I can tell you that women like me face double the discrimination, first due to their gender, and then again due to their sexuality. I am marching in this pride to assert my existence and to tell the world that I am a voice that cannot be silenced,” said Sonal Giani, advocacy officer of Humsafar trust.