The much-hyped Queer Azadi rally at Azad Maidan on Friday may not have had an impressive turnout compared to last March’s Mumbai’s Gay Pride, but confidence levels in the crowd of over 500 cheering people soared visibly higher.
A large number of lesbians, gays bisexuals and transgenders (LGBT) showed up with unmasked faces, a sign in itself of the change brought about in the year since the Delhi High Court decriminalised consensual homosexual sex.
“Now more of us are comfortable wearing our own skin at public rallies,” said a gay participant who, however, wished to remain anonymous.
Most participants had taken leave from work to attend the rally in vibrant colours of the LGBT rainbow. The event included song and dance performances, speeches and sarcastic enactments booing down the arguments of those opposing gay rights. “Today is a historical day but our fight is not over, To win it, we need to unite as one,” said Manvendra Singh Gohil, gay rights activist and Prince of Rajpipla.
Transgender activist Laxmi Narayan Tripathi, who was in April asked to leave a dinner function at the Bombay Gymkhana, emphasised community unity. “I was disappointed to see that though the media supported me, very few people from my own community extended support,” she said. The case is with the State Human Rights Commission, and Tripathi said she is waiting for the Gymkhana to offer the apology they allegedly offered.
“Gay culture is less visible here, so it has been an adjustment for me. I feel different here,” said Sophia Shapiro, a student visiting Mumbai from New York, the US, where homosexuality is now decriminalised in every state.
“The fight against social stigmas is not going to be rosy, but when we know our cause is just, we have nothing to fear,” said Anand Grover, founder of Lawyers’ Collective who argued the case in the HC.