Tag Archives: Pride Guide

72 Thoughts You Have While Attending A Pride March

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Mumbai celebrated its eleventh ever Pride March two days ago, and being the socially anxious (but also out-and-proud) queer man that I am, I had a lot of thoughts.

Want to know what being at the city’s biggest gay parade felt like? An overdose of rainbows and unicorns aside, here are 72 different thoughts I had while walking the (most fabulous) parade:

1. OMG! It’s Pride today!

2. Should I put on a face mask?

3. Where is my face mask?

4. Oh boy, what should I wear?

5. Is this too colourful?

6. Is this too black and white?

7. Does this look like I am trying too hard?

8. Does this look like I am not trying at all?

9. Where’s the flag I saved from last year?

10. Will they have new flags to give away today?

11. Why do I have to make so many decisions, oh no!

12. What if I run into someone I know?

13. What if I don’t run into anyone?

14. Will I look weird if I am alone?

15. What if people laugh at me?

16. Wait… what if they really, really don’t.

17. Okay, I am going.

18. Maybe I should have a Plan B?

19. I don’t even have a Plan A. LOL.

20. *heavy breathing exercises*

21. Well, here we are.

22. Why is it so crowded?

23. Is the whole world here? WOW!

24. Look at all these people!

25. Look at all these colours!

26. Look at all this joy!

27. Look at all this energy!

28. OMG! That poster is so cool!

29. OMG! That poster is so funny!

30. Whoa! Look at that outfit. #SLAY4LIFE

31. Damn. Did they see me look? Quick, turn around. Hide face!

32. Should I take a photo?

33. No. No photos without consent.

34. Wait, are they taking MY picture?

35. Should I ask them to delete it?

36. Wait, I look great anyway.

37. Okay, let me go ask them for a picture too.

38. Okay, the march is starting…

39. Nobody can rain on this parade!

40. OOOH, look! A rainbow!

41. Another one…

42. And another one!

43. AND ANOTHER ONE!

44. Okay, how many rainbows does it take to screw on a light bulb?

45. All of these, because they ‘light’ me up with joy LOL.

46. GOD I am so funny.

47. Okay, it was funny.

48. You can at least pretend to find it funny.

49. Whatevs.

50. HOT DAMN. SO. MUCH. COLOUR.

51. It’s wonderful to see so many people who are absolutely free!

52. Gaaaaah. I need to learn a lesson or two from them.

53. This is so heartwarming.

54. Why was I even unsure of coming here?

55. Can’t believe it’s been eleven years since the city had its first Pride March!

56. Go #PRIDE!

57. Maybe I should make a poster for next year?

58. Why don’t I have a slogan for today anyway?

59. My hands look awkward not holding anything.

60. OOH. Wait, I’ll just ask that girl over there if I can take her extra flag.

61. Okay. How do I ask?

62. Here goes.

63. Well… that was easy.

64. Okay, now I am good.

65. Where do I look? Where do I look? I DON’T WANT TO MISS ANYTHING!

66. There’s. So. Much. Love.

67. It’s true. Love is love is love is love is love is LOVE.

68. Am I crying? No, YOU are crying!

69. This is honestly so empowering, man.

70. Wait. Is it over already? We just started!

71. Where did all the time go?

72. Okay, why can’t every day be just like this?

#PrideGuide: How To Be a Better Ally in 2019

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It’s time for the Mumbai Pride, people.

It’s going to be a celebration of queer culture, of colour, of everyone’s right to be (and more importantly, love). It’s going to be the biggest (queer) party of the year – think of an EDM festival without the claustrophobia and ear-deafening music. But only with lots of colour and joy.

While I might have already given you enough reasons to pull up your socks and walk the parade (irrespective of your sexuality), it’s important to know that just attending the Pride march doesn’t cut it anymore.

See, because Pride didn’t become an annual event just because queer people needed a party (but we do). It’s tied to a long history of struggle that shouldn’t be ignored, especially by queer allies and straight participants.

We march to protest against the rampant homophobia that still exists in our society. To celebrate our identity in a world that always discourages us from doing so. And obviously, people who don’t identify as a part of the community are the (root) cause of the struggle. No offence.

Of course, straight people can – and must – attend the march to show their solidarity. But there are some things heterosexuals need to think about when joining us in celebration, especially when the celebration isn’t about them. Remember, you are coming to an LGBTQIA+ event as a guest, and it’s something you need to be cognizant of.

But this is where I come in. Hold on to your rainbow socks and glitter shoes, because I am more than happy to help. Want to know more?

Without much further ado, here are six ways to be a better straight ally at Pride this year:

Do: Go in judgment free

You may see some things you’re not expecting at Pride. There are going to be men in drag. Women in suits. Boys wearing corsets. Guys wearing fishnet stockings. Dudes in leather. Dudes without. Guys in their finest jewellery. Ladies in their finest mohawks. But no matter what you see, keep your opinions to yourself. At Pride, let queer people express themselves as they want. The best versions of themselves.

Don’t: Stare at people

You don’t like it, and neither do we. It’s not a zoo, people. We aren’t here for your entertainment. It’s really that simple.

Do: Understand your privilege

Even if you’re the ally of the year, you’re entering Pride with a lot of privilege. The privilege of being straight, which automatically, according to a large part of the Indian populace, makes you ‘normal’. Understand that, but more importantly, understand that Pride is a LGBTQIA+ safe space, and you need to keep it that way. So walk out and proud, but know that the queers need to be in the limelight here more than you do.

Don’t: Take pictures of people without consent

Do we need to give you another lesson on consent? Especially when people’s personal and professional lives are at stake? Find someone interesting and want to take a picture? Just ask. If they refuse, walk away like a nice human being.

No pictures without permission. Now repeat it with me till it becomes a part of you.

Do: Enjoy it, but know that it’s not only about you

Loved the colours? The joy? The display of fabulousness? Great, now you also need to love the fact that at pride, ‘it’s queer first, you later’. Like I said many times before, it’s really not about you.

Side note: The A in the LGBTQIA+ doesn’t stand for Ally, it stands for Asexual and Aromantic — grossly misrepresented, but needing their space in the spectrum more than anyone else (especially you, straight cis folk).

Don’t: Assume people’s identities

No matter how people present themselves at Pride, it’s important not to make assumptions. There’s no better place than Pride to start asking for the pronouns of the people you meet, and to go neutral with the pronouns of people you don’t. Be mindful of the words you use, and the way you use them. Always ask, instead of assuming.

See, going into Pride as an ally might seem intimidating (and I am really sorry if I made it seem so), but it’s really not. Keep this list of do’s and don’ts in mind, and you’ll be more than welcome to walk (fabulously) with us. We’ll even take a group picture!

#PrideTalk: 37 People Tell Us What #Pride Means To Them In A Post Section 377 World

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We’ve come full circle, boys and girls.

In less than a week, the city walks its eleventh ever Pride March – which means, the city’s (and the country’s) gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender brethren will take to the streets to walk for freedom, for love, and for everything in between.

This year is a monumental one as it marks the city’s first ever Pride March after the Supreme Court’s decision to read down parts of Section 377, thus making same-sex relationships legal (and the world a happy place again)!

Which is why, to honour the day and prove how important the cause is, I asked 37 queer folks what #Pride means to them in this (ever-so-slightly) progressive world. Our relationships may be legal on this bright(er) day, but we still have miles to go before we get the rights we deserve: workplace equality, the right to marry, anti-discrimination laws. The list goes on, but the questions don’t.

I asked, and the answers poured in from everywhere. Here’s what they all had to say:

Finally being and cherishing who I am and not giving a damn about what the neighborhood aunties will think.
Arnav, poet

Not having to assure people that you like ‘girls and boys’.
Harikesh, legal consultant

Being able to express myself the way I really want to. As the best (and truest) version of myself.
Kartik, copywriter

Stop trying to obsessively define queerness. Be inclusive. Be loving. Be kind. Be cool.
Mahima, writer

In fact, it shouldn’t need a definition. I don’t need to explain what, why or who. Straight people don’t come out or give explanations, so why should we?
Thangsing, blogger

Self-acceptance. As a biromantic homosexual, it took me 17 years to accept who I really am.
Arunava, chef

Not making a conscious effort to hide my sexuality.
Saumya, student

Feeling brave enough to wear makeup and heels as a cis man.
Harshvir, daytime diva

Pride means, to be you.
Harsh, poet

Not feeling guilty for loving or wanting what your heart truly desires.
Tanvi, team leader

Joy.
Arzoo, illustrator

As a bisexual woman, I want reactions to be ‘OMG tell us about her!’ instead of ‘Oh, so are you gay now?’
Diya, Netflix addict

Being as proud of your crush as your straight friends are of their’s.
Ronak, marketing intern

Breathing freely.
Ananya, student

The strength to come out to my parents.
Soham, not disclosed

Being able to take all the negativity that has been thrown my way, and make it my personal strength.
Arjun, MBA student

Companies capitalising on a social movement.
Alankrita, HR professional

It’s plain, pure joy. The joy of homonormalisation!
Tushar, baker

Professing my love without the fear of trolling.
Pokhraj, student

People not saying things like ‘I’m okay with queers as long as they are not affectionate in public.’
Hiranmayi, Tumblr connoisseur

It’s all about being someone you’re proud to be and not ashamed to accept.
Anukul, management trainee

A sense of knowing and appreciating who you really are.
Iti, architect

Finding love and the strength to finally come out to my parents.
Dirk, entrepreneur

Educating others about the LGBTQIA+ community and not feeling uncomfortable because of it.
Prajwal, fashion student

The right to just be. To be treated without prejudice or discrimination, just as an equal.
Chittajit, science enthusiast

A colourful world.
Eklavya, college student

Focusing on the rights and freedom of the lesser-known members of the queer spectrum.
Rakesh, chemical engineer

Pride still means the same, pre or post Section 377: Be yourself unapologetically.
Paartho, columnist

Freedom.
Abhilash, consultant

The granting of civil liberties and marriage rights.
Kavita, panel moderator

Finally owning that runway walk I pretend to do on the streets — fierce and liberated.
Shethin, lawyer

Developing positive self-statements.
Naveed, writer

Greater responsibility to ensure some real change happens in the society.
Indrajeet, queer rights activist

Loving myself first.
Hruday, actor

To be more positive towards my sexual orientation and fellow 250 million queer folks around the world.
Rashi, chartered accountant

Breaking stereotypes, and making straight people realise the different shades of the queer spectrum.
Lokesh, researcher.

Being ‘normal’.
Rishabh, graphic designer

#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

#PrideTalk: The Beginner’s Guide To Lame Excuses

Lame excuses

Unless you’ve been living under a (rather fabulous) rock, you know that today marks the date for the city’s 10th ever Queer Pride March – which means that thousands of LGBT individuals and their straight allies plan to take to the streets, because the government won’t take up their (or more importantly, our) cause.

Now, If like me, you plan to show your support and march with your head up high – congratulations! I’ll see you on the other side. On the other hand, if you still need some convincing, don’t worry, because I’ve got a personal handbook that tells you exactly why you need to go and make your presence felt.

Why is it important that you go?

Because every person counts – and unless you are dealing with a life-threatening experience or an extreme case of diarrhoea, I see no reason for you not to walk the talk with your friends today. Still looking for a reason not to go, but don’t want to sound like a douchebag?

Then here’s the Guysexual’s guide to lame excuses that just won’t cut it anymore:

  1. ‘I don’t want to go because I don’t have anything to wear.’

Actually, you do – it’s called your personality. Now go flaunt it fabulously.

  1. ‘But it’s Saturday!’

Blaming the day is for the week-hearted. Pun intended.

  1. ‘I have a date lined up.’

Don’t be a drag – drag him to Pride instead.

It’s easy on your pockets, and heavy on the charm.

  1. ‘But I don’t have anyone to go with.’

Ask your sister. Ask your friend. Ask your next door neighbor. Ask your biology teacher (if she’s fun). You’ll be surprised how many people want to walk with you. And if you don’t find anyone else?

Remember that there are hundreds (perhaps thousands) like you out there. Pride is all about celebrating love – so why not celebrate it with some new friends instead?

5. ‘I completely forgot it was today.’

That’s surprising, considering you haven’t forgotten that Keeping Up With The Kardashians comes back next week.

  1. ‘Frankly, my dear, I think it’s a bit too much…’

Do you know what’s a bit too much for me?

Your attitude.

  1. ‘But it’s the same time as Sula Fest, and you know how I feel about wine…’

Side note: no ensuing headaches and hangovers involved here. Heartwarming feels, on the other hand?

No crate of Cabernet Sauvignon can ever provide those.

  1. ‘ Are you crazy? The whole of Grindr is going to be there!’

Of course, it is – but think of it this way – see someone you like?

You don’t need to swipe right on them anymore. You just need to go start a conversation.

And years down the line, when you are raising a toast at your wedding, you don’t need to lie about meeting each other at Starbucks.

  1. ‘Is this all really necessary? Think about the children!’

Actually it’s really important BECAUSE you need to think about the children – generations of LGBT men and women have suffered through years of ridicule, slander and discrimination so that the youth (both straight and gay) could live in a more accepting (and acceptable) world.

Now let them go own it.

  1. ‘I’d rather support the cause from behind the curtains.’

Unless you are a lawyer who’s fighting section 377 at the roots, or a philantrophist who has donated millions to the cause, you aren’t doing your bit just by downing shots at the pre-Pride fundraiser. What helps instead?

Putting those shot glasses down, and pulling up those socks instead. See, events like Pride are more than a celebration or a political statement: they are a place where you can connect with the movement, and learn about what small battles are being fought in your corner of the world.

  1. “I would have definitely come, but I am heading to Bali for a vacation…”

Instagram might be happy, but I am not.

Vacations will come and go, but city-wide movements will not.

  1. ‘My dog has a spa appointment…’

Bring him along.

Every pair of feet that marches for Pride makes a difference and here, your dog comes equipped with twice the usual number.

  1. ‘I really don’t have a problem being there, but do people really have to be in my face? Why does everybody have to be so over-the-top?’

The real question is, why do you have to be such an asshole?

  1. ‘Why does it have to be in the middle of the afternoon?’

Consult point 13.

  1. ‘I don’t really think it’s my thing.’

Is expressing yourself not your thing? Where else can you wear suspenders, a hat or even a tutu without being judged (side note: but not all together)?

Yes, at Pride March. So don’t be that person.

Come walk the talk.

Like I said, I’ll see you at the finish line.