“Welcome to BneGAYluru,” read one poster. “Gay Ho! Jai Ho!” read another. While one colourful, energetic procession of gays, lesbians and transgenders marched down the main thoroughfare leading to Town Hall, Bangalore on Sunday evening; another simultaneously made its way along Chennai’s Marina Beach.
The men, women and transgenders, swathed in myriad bright colours, sang and danced all the way to the accompaniment of drums. Many wore colourful wigs, hats or masks; some men even had gay pride slogans painted across their bare torsos.
“We know there are thousands who support our demand that Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code which criminalizes homosexuality should be repealed,” said Dhruv, 24, in Bangalore, unwilling to give his last name.
Chennai’s marchers were even more upbeat. “Tamil society is believed to be overly conservative,” said one of them. “Yet Tamil Nadu is the only state in the country to have carried out a census of transgenders. It has also given transgenders ration cards and voter ID cards.”
Leading cultural figures in both cities turned out to support the march. For Chennai residents, crucial support has come from Kanimozhi
These activists were cheered on by well-known theatre personality and actress, Arundati Nag, and members of organizations such as Alternative Law Forum. “As a representative of artistes, I am here to express the support of our fraternity. We will do everything to get you into the main-stream if you remain united and get trained in some vocation or the other. We support your demand for doing away with section 377,” Arundati Nag told the activists.