Editor’s Note: Lavanya is a 19-year-old feminist who firmly believes in creating spaces where women can freely express themselves without fear of persecution or judgement. In this story, she shares the warm memories of her first pride parade, one that was made extra special by the support she got from her parents.
Usually, a person cannot find a lot of things to be happy about on a sunny day in the middle of May. But on May 17, 2017, I couldn’t have been unhappy even if I tried to! Why you may ask? See, it is not every day that your desi queer girl gets dropped off at her first Pride parade and that too by her own parents!
Last year was not only my first Pride parade but also Bhopal’s first Pride parade! It was a much-needed sign for me and my fellow LGBTQ people that despite all the stigma and prejudice, our city, and our country is changing, even if slowly and gradually, and if that is not something to be happy about, then I don’t know what is.
So, let me paint you a picture of the day. I got up early to get ready for what was to be the most important day of my life! I had butterflies, and what made it extra special for me was that my mum and dad had promised to drop me to the event. My Pride began right at home as my heart swelled with pride for my parents!
Not only was it bright and sunny, it was a riot of colours in the middle of Bhopal. People in the most beautiful and creative outfits were all walking towards the venue. The sounds of chattering, laughing, and camera shutters clicking hung in the air. But what struck me most was the camaraderie. In a community often discriminated against, even strangers become family, something I learnt that day. I also made a new friend that day–let’s call her Aastha.
As things began to get exciting, I energetically took on the very important responsibility of passing around the mini Pride flags. And then the march began. Slogans were shouted excitedly, condemning Section 377, expressing our right to love, and emphasizing over and over again that all love is the same.
Aastha and I milled in with the crowd like a pair of excited children at a fair, enjoying the sights and sounds and everything that was happening around us.
That day, amidst the invites to after parties, hugs, and pictures with people who had been strangers just a few hours ago, I realised something. I realised just how hungry we are for acceptance, love and belonging.
The most memorable moment for me that day was when walking underneath a giant pride flag, as it waved and undulated, a ray of warm, mellow evening sunlight hit my eyes, and I felt like I was in a happily ever after of a beautiful movie.
I am already looking forward to the Pride next year!