Foreigners schedule India trip to support Mumbai LGBT community

Updated: Feb 04, 2018, 11:12 IST | Hemal Ashar | Mumbai

Mumbai"s annual gay pride parade or Queer Azaadi March (QAM) started with the customary colourful start - with rainbows, wings, ribbons and silver bauble-adorned marchers - outside SoBo"s August Kranti Maidan

The Pride march kicked off on Saturday from August Kranti Maidan. Pic/Bipin Kokate
The Pride march kicked off on Saturday from August Kranti Maidan. Pic/Bipin Kokate

The Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender (LGBT) community and those in their corner got their moment in the February sun on Saturday afternoon. Mumbai"s annual gay pride parade or Queer Azaadi March (QAM) started with the customary colourful start - with rainbows, wings, ribbons and silver bauble-adorned marchers - outside SoBo"s August Kranti Maidan.

Pride march

The sizeable number of Caucasians stood out. "Anthony" from New Jersey, USA, was revved up for his first Mumbai Pride. "I was part of a project called from Broadway to Bombay and we performed a flag dance at the Gulabi Mela during Pride month here," said Anthony demonstrating a few dance steps amid the crowd. "The march is much smaller compared to New York, but it is sure to be a learning experience."

For two women, Anke and Karein from South Germany, their tourism schedule, took a tweak, when they read on Facebook that Mumbai has a Pride. "We were here only for sightseeing until we read this," they said.

Proud to join in
"When are we starting?" shouted a young woman, even as employees from the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) arranged themselves. Shrikant S, chairperson of the Rainbow Network of RBS, said, "We are RBS employees and we are here to make a statement for inclusive and safe workplaces."

Jostling for space good-naturedly with RBS was the parents of LGBT children group called Sweekar. Chitra Palekar of Sweekar said, "We are growing slowly as a confidential space for parents of LGBT children. Today is as much a celebration as it is a protest."

Flaunting their identity
Provocative posters were always part of the Pride identity, but this time we saw them bolder. There was one that read, "I eat p…y" while another had "Choose d...s over sausages".

A `Jai Bhim" flag caught attention with spokesperson "Sai" saying, "a lot of LGBT persons are Dalit/Adivasi, they do not traditionally attend Gay Pride parades, this is our way of opposing all repression because queer rights are seen as elitist."

Ashok Row Kavi, gay rights pioneer and oncologist Dr Prasad Dandekar were with their group called Seenagers comprising older gay men, who had come together to talk about challenges like depression and loneliness. "We have had four meetings as of now," they said, even as some patrons from a well-known wafer store stopped in their tracks as they saw two men pirouette before them.

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