#PrideTalk: 21 (Fabulous) Men Tell Us Why We Need To Walk For Pride

 

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What’s that faint buzz that you hear (and feel in your bones)?

That’s the sound of Mumbai gearing up for its tenth-ever Pride March – and it’s charging up as you read this sentence. In a few hours, thousands of straight, gay, bisexual and transgendered folk will take to the streets for their right to love, their right to live, but most importantly, their right to be.

But are these numbers enough?

As these thousands take a stand and do their bit to make a difference, countless others choose to sit #Pride out instead  (and their excuses are equally abysmal.)

Which is why, to honour the day and prove how important the cause is,  I asked 21 different men why walking the talk was necessary. The answers poured in from all over my little black book — from actors and illustrators, journalists and doctors, entrepreneurs and bankers.

They even poured in from my Tinder account.

Jokes (and accusations) apart, here’s what the men had to say:

Simply to stand up, and be counted. Wear a mask if you don’t want to be identified, but go nonetheless. Experience it and contribute to it, in however small a way.

Each attendance counts. 

— Varun, fashion editor

For one reason — continuum, because we owe it to our future generations.

The liberties that we enjoy today, the relative ease of coming out, the parties, the social acceptance, are all a result of  the social movement built over decades by people who had to face ridicule and discrimination.

It’s only imperative that we continue it all and play a role for furthering the cause for future generations.

— Aman, health professional

To spread awareness about the fact that it’s not a taboo to be gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered. As a community we are extremely prone to protesting AGAINST something, but rarely in favour of anything. If more and more people walk the Pride, the other margin of the society who still think that it’s a taboo, will get to know that if a large part of the society is supporting a small community, it ‘probably’ isn’t taboo anymore.

Since the fear of homosexuality is so deeply rooted, primarily because of our attitude of rarely doing anything out of social sanction, the society in general needs to walk the pride and tell everyone how they accept homosexuality, in turn telling everyone else that it is ‘normal’ to be homosexual. The more the people, the more the acceptance, the lesser the fear of taboo.

— Paarth, filmmaker

The sole reason we need to walk the pride is to create awareness. To be taken seriously. To help explain that homosexuality isn’t a disease or abnormality you can cure, but an orientation.

— Sumeet, fashion designer

I think everyone should walk the Pride, whether they belong to the LGBT community or not  — straight, gay, bisexual or transgendered,  if you support us it’s time to take some time out, show those numbers to the society and show your level of acceptance to the government.

— Rehan, screenwriter

To show the world that queer people exist.

And that we exist in large numbers.

— Ujjwal, PhD student

Pride March to me is a yell of existence; we’ve been hidden in the dark for so long we need to be in the light so that no one has to live in the dark anymore.

Not just this time, but for many more times to come.

— Arnav, video editor

A Pride March is (still) one of the very few places and ways queer people can own and express their identities. And if we want the conversation around equality, rights and non-discrimination going, we cannot afford not to be visible.

— Jacob, writer

This year, our numbers need to be visible even more, especially since the political class needs the stats to even consider us to be any kind of vote bank.

— Anand, marketing executive

The reason why I love Pride (apart from the free service eye candy) is because, like almost all queer people in our generation, there had been a long period of feeling alone in my experience.

It’s a shell that is very tough to break out of.

That feeling of being the only one to live something so different was so heavy, I would not go even to gay parties for fear of being singled out. Which is exactly why — when I went to my first Pride after much contemplation — I was overwhelmed. It was a cathartic experience that heavily soothed this feeling of being the only one queer that I knew of.

Since then I have been going to at least one Pride a year. It is impressive because despite all this ‘growing’ that has happened since the first time, it is STILL a cathartic experience every single year. It shows to what extent we are unable to find things to relate to in the quotidian life.

And that is exactly why I will continue to go to pride. Apart from being the lovely celebration that it is of being yourself, it is a day when you contribute to the visibility of SOGI rights.

And this aspect holds not only for queer people, but also for everyone else. It is an opportunity for any ally of SOGI rights to make his/her/their own contribution by showing their support.

— Kaushik, research scientist

The single most important reason to march for Pride is to make sure the judiciary, the government and the country knows that we are not a minuscule minority, and that our rights matter.

We are not criminals (and never will be) and have the same rights as any other Indian citizen!

— Maanav Dev, restaurateur

To get a sense of community beyond what one might see on apps — there’s strength in numbers and if we want change at an institutional level, we are going to need our voices heard!

— Siddharth, academic and translator

Because it’s important that people see that we exist. That we exist in different age groups, that we are queens and that we are butch. We have beards and we put on make up, we wear heels and we have moods — and that’s just the gay men!

We are so much more with the LGBTQ community put together.

— Laksh, digital entrepreneur

The struggle for LGBT equality is a long and tireless one. Over the years, as societies have relatively evolved towards us, the LGBT community has regressed in its understanding of the long battle people have fought for this world and leaders to have conversations around ‘homosexuality’.

Karl Heinrich Ulrichs, George Cecil, Jeanne Manford, Harvey Milk and others who shaped this movement in times so difficult and extreme have been conveniently forgotten… sadly most LGBT youth would hardly even know them. How can we celebrate our ‘gay-ness’ when people in authority, like Ramzan Kadyrov in Chechnya, pledge to persecute gay men or when statesmen in the Middle East criminalise and dehumanise us?

Our celebration lacks recognition and acknowledgement of this ongoing journey but remains a mere annual social gathering that fails to make any concrete statement beyond a single day’s headline. At the Stonewall March, there were no floats, no music blasting through the streets, no extravagance, body glitter and scantily clad dancers: it was a political statement and a test!

We’re working against deeply ingrained social mores that have been around so long no one even remembers how they got there anymore, and a visual of loud and proud, yet naive and un-informed men and women chanting and screaming and kissing is not going to cut it.

— Kartik (name changed), social worker

People should come out and show solidarity because in one way or the other, we have all shared the same (or similar) experiences while growing up.

A young LGBT kid, unable to understand or cope with his own desires, often one feels alone. Unable to talk to someone about it coupled with the feeling of isolation potentially scars each one of us. The pride parade and consequent publication of articles, photos and media coverage of the parade can, to my mind, lend immense support to a kid struggling with his/ her own sexuality.

I sure wish the concept existed in Delhi during my adolescence.

Additionally, often times such coverage of the Pride parade tends to focus on men in drag and other elaborate attire while ignoring the huundreds of people who are from the community and at the march, the ones who choose to dress more — for lack of a better word — conservatively. While I fully support everyone’s right to be themselves and dress as they wish to, the sole focus on the stereotypical ways of the parade, to my mind, takes away from the seriousness of the parade and the issues involved. As responsible citizens, the journalists/media must focus on the core issues, as opposed to just restricting their coverage to attention grabbing colorful pictures and headlines.

— Ansh* (name changed), lawyer

The word Pride itself suggests the whole purpose of why one should step out and join the march.

For someone who has ‘pride’ in his/her orientation, it becomes integral to participate and send the right message; so that acceptability (and more importantly, awareness) becomes more commonplace.

— Tushar, architect

To show the world that  we are not a bunch of crazy colourful people — we are doctors, engineers, artists, your co-workers, your brothers, neighbours, the person you think is your idol — for all those men  hiding in the closet because YOU make me an outcast for coming out of one.

— Karan, fashion entrepreneur

Visibility.

For too long gay men and women have been poured in casts of assumed professions, temperaments, and allowed limited places in everyday lives. People need to come out to represent diversity — cis, trans, gay, straight, femme, masc, camp, or even butch… but remain unapologetic, at the end of the day. We need enough representation for younger lesbians, gays, bisexual, transgender and straight people to find a bit of themselves in us, just so no one feels alone.

For too long we have been assumed minuscule, when owning our authentic self is every person’s dream.

— Anuj, consultant

Pride is not only limited to LGBT community but it is for all the oppressed sects of the society. So, if you think you are not exercising your freedom right, it is your one-way ticket to Utopia.

— Prashant, sales executive

To show people that we can protest with love and without waging a war.

But more importantly, because each voice counts.

— Vikas Narula, restaurateur

People, gay or not, should walk the Pride March this year to show that even while the country is in a state of turmoil over a movie screening that pushes India back in time back in time rather than moving forward, there’s a united front that wants change and people who are ready to be a part of the process to bring that change.

— Raghav, banker

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