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HindustanTimes Fri,19 Sep 2014

Queer community marches with pride

Aarefa Johari, Hindustan Times  Mumbai, January 30, 2011
First Published: 01:04 IST(30/1/2011) | Last Updated: 01:04 IST(30/1/2011)

With every Pride March, the city’s queer community is getting prouder and more confident.

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When more than 2,000 lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders (LGBT) paraded in their festive rainbow attire as part of the city’s annual Queer Pride March on Saturday, almost no one came with a mask. For members of the community, this symbolised a great step forward since the first march in 2008, when many preferred the anonymity of a mask.

The March, flagged off at by actor Celina Jaitley at August Kranti Maidan in Grant Road west, ended outside Girgaum Chowpatty after an hour of dancing, singing and enthusiastic sloganeering.

“People have grown more mature don’t feel the need to be underground anymore,” said Andheri resident Rohit Chaturvedi, 28, who happens to be a fashion designer but firmly rubbishes any myth connecting the profession to gay men.

“The law can’t change attitudes overnight, but we are definitely moving towards a more progressive India,” added Sharmalee Palekar, an Australia-based university professor.

The trend of casting off masks saw a spurt after the 2009 Delhi High Court ruling that decriminalised homosexuality under section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, but there were some at the march who were still uncomfortable with the media.

“In the first pride march I masked myself in a hat and beard, but now I’m fine without it,” said a young lesbian lawyer requesting anonymity.

The Pride March was supposed to end with a kite-flying session on the beach, but the Chowpatty police denied permission at the last minute stating a High Court order that disallowed any processions inside.

This did not dampen the spirit of the March, however, as LGBTs beat drums, sang ‘Pyaar kiya to darna kya’ and displayed posters saying ‘Out is in’ and ‘Love has many colours’. Broadening the scope of the Queer Pride movement, some also espoused other causes, with slogans such as ‘Happy and gay in a clean environment’ and ‘377 gone, now time to kick out 124A (the law penalising sedition)’.

“The March is also one day when people from different communities and economic backgrounds come together,” said Robin Chaurasiya, 25, a former lieutenant in the American air force who lost her job in July after she came out as a lesbian.


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