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Gays stage march for respect, acceptance

india Updated: Aug 17, 2009 01:22 IST
Purva Mehra
Purva Mehra
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

On Sunday, Shobha Doshi, in her 40s, put on her brightest clothes and journeyed from Mulund to Grant Road and blend in with the exploding cluster of colours gathering around August Kranti Maidan.

At the second annual Queer Azadi March, Doshi emerged somewhat of a hero as she proudly carried a placard that read ‘I’m proud of my gay son’.

“My son came out three years ago and I have supported him since. He’s been honest to himself and I’ve made his sexual orientation known to our relatives also,” said Doshi.

“It’s not easy to accept, but I don’t see anything wrong with his choice,” she added.

Her son, a computer engineer, has settled in America with his boyfriend.

“He isn’t here but I’m marching today to represent him and support the community,” said Doshi.

In theatrical getups the likes of feather boas, Afro wigs, feather-lined masquerade masks, glitter, tiaras, tinsel and other rainbow-coloured accesasories, close to 2,000 members of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community and their supporters gathered from across India.

They marched to applaud the Delhi High Court’s landmark judgment decriminalising homosexuality in July.

“We don’t discriminate between celebration and protest. We’re marching for the public to notice us, talk about us and realise that we aren’t different from the rest of society,” said Mumbai-based surgeon and musician Krishna Kumar.

Under the prismatic shade of a vast rainbow flag, Mumbai’s queer galvanised fellow paraders to chant slogans in favour of their freedom and against lesbian suicide, bauxite mining, female infanticide and violence of all kinds.

“The proposed repeal of section 377 has lent a certain amount of oomph to this march although there are other issues surrounding the decriminilisation that we’ve assembled for,” said Shailen, refusing to give his last name.

A historian from England, Shailen timed his trip to coincide with the parade.

In the festivities leading up to Chowpatty no single or absolute response emerged on the question of life after 377.

The country’s queer were still marching for their life, for respect and acceptance.

“The most obvious shift is the exposure it’s given us,” said Nagpur resident Rohit Parmar, currently studying in Mumbai.

The parade peaked on a fervent pitch at Chowpatty when LGBT in different languages chanted slogans such as ‘Jai ho, gay ho’, ‘Better gay than grumpy’, ‘Born gay, fabulous by choice’, ‘Hetero homo bhai bhai’ and ‘Queer hua to darna kya’.

When asked why he marched today, a lawyer from Delhi pointed to an inscription on an apron he had on: ‘Serving the community wity pride’.