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!