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Mumbai: Rainbow colours everywhere mark pride march’s 15 years

Updated on: 29 January,2023 07:47 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Dipti Singh |

But inharmonious queer rights organisations lead to poor attendance

Mumbai: Rainbow colours everywhere mark pride march’s 15 years

Over 2000 vibrantly dressed people attended the pride march. Pics/Ashish Raje

Discord among different queer rights organisations seemed to have clouded the otherwise flamboyant rainbow of the pride march, held in the city on Saturday. The first LGBTQIA+ pride to be held after the two-year pandemic lull saw fewer attendees than anticipated, with around 2,000 colourfully dressed people taking to the streets. This year Color Positive Foundation had received permission for the march, which began at 4.30 pm from Carter Road and ended at the Carter Road Amphitheatre.

“We did expect more footfall but are happy that the people who did join brought in so much enthusiasm and positivity to the event,” said Savio Mascarenhas, founder-director of Color Positive Foundation.

Masceranhas clarified that the low turnout was because other prominent queer rights organisations—Humsafar Trust and QAM, decided against joining hands. The two organisations took to social media to clarify their disassociation with Saturday’s march.

This year Colour Positive Foundation was given permission to hold the march
This year Colour Positive Foundation was given permission to hold the march

“This is a movement for and by people; it’s not just about organisations. In the end, we are all working for a similar cause,” added Masceranhas who is also a member of the Nationalist Congress Party’s (NCP) state LGBT Cell.

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Different routes to the same path

With Saturday’s march, the pride parade marked 15 years of its existence in the city. It was started off as a protest against Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code that criminalised gay/lesbian sex, in 2008. 

However, along with a different organisation taking over this year, the route of the parade also saw an alteration. Previously, the march commenced from August Kranti Maidan and ended at Girgaum Chowpatty. It was also popular as Queer Azadi March and Mumbai pride march.

Citing law and order disturbances in the backdrop of the anti-CAA and NRC protests across the city, the Gamdevi police had denied permission to the march in January 2020. But a closed event was held in February that year at Azad Maidan, without any march on the streets. The pandemic soon took over the next two years. 

But it was still a colourful sight to behold on Saturday when community members, activists and supporters of the movement joined in colourful dresses, holding banners and posters and chanting slogans of freedom and choice.

The march began from Carter Road and ended at Carter Road Amphitheatre
The march began from Carter Road and ended at Carter Road Amphitheatre

Mamta Mehta, a Sujok Therapist from Kings Circle and LGBTQIA+ community supporter, said, “I participated to support my friends from the community and to raise awareness among those who are unkind and unpleasant to the LGBTQIA+ community.

More acceptance than before

Parag Shinde came from Thane with his group of friends all dressed up as Maharashtrian grooms. The group’s agenda was crystal clear—they demanded the legalisation of same-sex marriages. Holding a placard which read Navra-Mulga Pahije (Groom-Boy wanted) Shinde said, “I appeal to the government to legalise same-sex marriages. Even we want to get married. There should be nothing illegal in that.”

Chetana Salunkhe and her partner Maan Gaikwad said that times are gradually changing and there is more acceptance for the LGBTQIA+ people now than it had been in the past few years. “It is pertinent to come out and break the stigma. People should be more sensitive and understand the third gender and be aware of pronouns other than he/she and him/her. We want to be respected like any other individual and don’t want people to look at us as if we are weird,” Salunkhe, a model, actor and choreographer, told mid-day.

Gaikwad added, “It’s my first pride march with my partner. I feel there is more acceptance from the society towards us now, as compared to five or six years ago and such pride events have a role to play. Even if people don’t approve of us, they at least have started respecting our space. We have come a long way.”

Borivli-based interior designer Amey Jadhav, has been participating in the pride march for the last six years. He said, “Here we can dress up as anyone we want and not stay guarded or restricted. This is where we can raise our voices, and demand inclusivity.”

BMC School kids collect funds

On the sidelines of the march, seven students from Mohili Village BMC school in Sakinaka, were seen selling pride march and rainbow ribbon badges to the attendees, as part of a fundraiser. “We want to create awareness about gender sensitivity, and inclusiveness,” said Satyam Saroj a class IX student.

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