30, Jan 2018 | Chitra Palekar
At 3.30 pm on Saturday 3rd February, when Queer Azaadi Mumbai Pride Parade begins from August Kranti Maidan, I will be a part of it.
As a mother of a lesbian daughter, I will walk in support of my child, and also for all the LGBTQI (Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Trans-gender, Queer, Inter-sex) persons in our country who are in the minority due to their ‘different’ sexuality. I will be there to tell the world openly, clearly that I love my daughter, accept her exactly as she is and am extremely proud of her; to proclaim that there is absolutely nothing wrong with her and, whom she chooses to love is her own private matter.
My daughter lives abroad, so will not be with me. But there will be thousands of LGBTQI people – a community represented by the Rainbow – all around me. And within the Rainbow umbrella, there will be different groups holding banners of their independent identities. They will gather not only from Mumbai, but also from all over Maharashtra – from cities like Pune as well as small towns. Many will travel from other parts of India and even from abroad. The huge gathering will be motley of looks… Some in ‘fantastic’ costumes, headgears, make-up; others in every-day casuals… A few will wear masks, not as much to hide their faces as they did in those early years, but in a festive spirit! Dhol players will lead the procession as always. Others will join in playing various instruments, singing, dancing… or they will just walk smiling, laughing, openly holding hands, greeting and hugging each other. Everyone will be waving the rainbow flags, creating a riot of colours! After all it is a celebration! A joyous and proud celebration of their very existence…
However, the Queer Azaadi Mumbai Pride Parade is also a protest against the IPC section 377, which criminalises and denies Fundamental Rights to the Rainbow Community and suppresses their Human Rights. It is a March to demand justice, and to create awareness of their existence through visibility! As people and police line up on both sides of the road watching with curiosity, the Parade is an occasion for the families and friends of the Queer persons to publicly express their acceptance… an opportunity for all the people believing in Equal Rights and Justice, to show their solidarity. In the last few years various support groups have been joining the QAM Parade in increasing numbers. From 500 participants in 2008, the total number including the supporters grew to 14,000 in 2017! After all, the rainbow community is not a ‘Miniscule Minority’!
This year’s Parade is special for me. We, the parents of the LGBTQI children, have now formed our own parent-support group named Sweekar: The Rainbow Parents. In the earlier parades the parents participated individually. But in the 2018, we will walk together under the banner of Sweekar, expressing our love and complete support for our children… demanding justice for them.
I believe that as we, the parents standing strongly behind our children grow in numbers, one day the prejudice will give way to acceptance in every way and the Pride Parade will only be a Celebration of Diversity.