The streets of Ahmedabad wore the vibrant colours of the rainbow on Sunday, 18 February, as the queer pride parade took over the city. The pride saw people from all walks of life embrace the freedom of love and expression.
Members of the LGBTQIA (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex and Allies) community were out on the streets wearing resplendent colours, carrying placards that read: ‘It’s not queer to be queer’, ‘it’s never too straight’, ‘my body my rights’, ‘some are born in their bodies – others have to fight for it’.
The queer pride parade started from the Kanoria Centre for Arts and culminated at Darpana Academy of Performing Arts – where a queer mela was organised. The parade also marked the last day of Gujarat’s first queer conference – Sambandh.
The conference, which was spread across two days, touched upon issues of queer orientation in culture and its representations in literature and cinema. Politics around one’s sexual identity, as well as queer relationships, were also discussed at length.
While the queer pride parade has been organised in Ahmedabad thrice before, it has never happened on such a massive scale. Around 200 people attended the event, while many others joined along the way.
The Quint spoke to Anahita Sarabhai, daughter of famous classical dancer Malika Sarabhai, who was one of the organisers. When asked about the impact of the parade, Anahita said:
Since 2013, the city has seen three pride parades. We are simply trying to continue the legacy. A big part of the problem is that the queer community itself doesn’t acknowledge its existence. We begin to believe the narrative that we don’t exist, that we are a minority whose issues truly don’t matter. But at the parade – the moment we see the crowds cheering for us, the smiles and the tears – we realise how real our experiences are.
Anahita also expressed surprise at the fact that Ahmedabad had taken so long to organise a parade.
Cities like Baroda have already organised queer pride parades. It’s surprising that a city like Ahmedabad took so long.Anahita Sarabhai, daughter of classical dancer Malika Sarabhai
Another organiser of the parade, Shamini Kothari, spoke to The Quint about the massive turnout.
Pride is not always easy for people to attend, especially when there’s a lot of social stigma attached to homosexuality. They know that the media will be present and that people will take pictures without their permission. They are, therefore, often intimidated and avoid such events – but pride parades are held primarily to defeat such fears and to create a comfortable place where they are accepted as they are. And we are quite glad to see the turnout this time in Ahmedabad.