Kaun sa kanoon sabse battar, teen sau sasattar, teen sau sasattaar (Which law is the worst, it’s 377, it’s 377)! This was the mood of the 7th Delhi pride parade which marched from Barakhamba – Tolstoy road to Jantar Mantar. This event was historic, as this was the first time thousands have marched in solidarity for LGBT rights since the Supreme court judge G.S. Singhvi upheld section 377 last year.
The grey roads turned rainbow as thousands of people, dressed up, holding placards and shouting slogan marched for their right to live. Mario da Penha, a Mumbaikar had come all the way to Delhi to show the courts that LGBT community is not a “minuscule minority” and he, along with all people in the world, deserves a life of dignity.
“This is the happiest parade I have been to,” says Naina, a 46 year LGBT activist. The ecstatic desi drumming, wild dancing and witty sloganeering kept the parade charged up. The march was lead by a rainbow balloon arch, followed by the marchers who carried a very long rainbow flag over their heads. Spread all over the parade were piquant placards, “my mother is searching for a husband for me,” was held by a young man. Kyunki gender aur genitals mein faraq hai, spread love, and Hindu Muslim Sikh Isai homo hetro bhai bhai were other popular ones.
The Delhi Pride Parade is organised by the Delhi queer pride committee, which is composed of only volunteers and runs on individual funding. Why does this stands out? It is because “Delhi has not succumbed to large corporate funding and still is a people’s movement,” Sonia, a volunteer, emphasized.
At Jantar Mantar, the organiser had set up a stage where poetry, singing and dances were performed. Akhil Katyal teaches literature at the Shiv Nadar University but is a poet at heart, he recited his poems on “Love” and “Narendra-Amit affair”. He was at “Jantar Mantar for love,” he says,“from the regressive policies of the government (Love Jihad, anti Kiss of love), it is evident that they do not want people to love, whether it be homo or hetro sexual love.” He estimates that about “three thousand people were marching today.” The most interesting thing about this year’s parade, he mentions is,“many people who came to parade wrote about it and promoted it were not just gay people but our straight allies.”
“Why Pride? It is to celebrate the LGBT way of life and to rejoice the legal recognition of the transgenders. It is to tell the world that 377 is unnatural and it is to tell all our suffering brothers and sisters, that there is hope,” adds Sonia.
Rakesh Kumar, from the Delhi Police, who was in-charge of the movement of the parade, says “Everyone likes colour and festivity. Orientation is a personal matter and everyone has the right to decide.”
Roji John, National President NSUI, who was at the parade, said “gay rights are not a non political matter and we have come in to support it.” He had come with his party activists with placards saying, “I support gay rights, but I am not gay,” with an enlarged “NSUI”. He said “we know many people who are gay actually and love has no politics.”
Other members in the parade were irked by the slogans of NSUI. Udit Mehera, 25, spoke against it saying,” ‘I support gay rights’ was enough to send the message across. The ‘I am not gay’ part confirms their homophobia and hypocrisy.”