Darjeeling observed its first Pride march on 10 December.
As the temperature dipped to 3 degree Celcius, members of the LGBTQIA community organised the hill's first Pride Walk in Darjeeling, three months after Supreme Court's verdict on Section 377.
The members left no stone unturned to make the event a memorable one – with rainbow flags, balloons and celebratory music, the streets of Darjeeling wore a happy and gay look.
Slogans like 'My Body My Rights', 'I am Gay and It's Okay', 'We are human, we have rights too' made several passersby and tourist stop their vehicles and capture the moment on their mobile cameras.
Starting from Chowk Bazar the march culminated at the Chowrasta Mall in Darjeeling, saw the participation of members of the LGBTQIA (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex and asexual) community from even the Dooars, Terai and Sikkim.
A happy and surprised Teshring Wangchuk, who came all the way from North Sikkim to be a part of the march, said, "I am amazed to see so many people from our community turning up for this parade. When I was coming here, I'd thought 20 people – at most – would attend. But the turnout is phenomenal. I mean, the number must be more than hundred! This really is a proud moment for all of us."
Key organiser Rudra Rai of Miitjyu, an organisation working on gender issues and Queer rights said, "Like many others, I'm also surprised to see so many people coming out and supporting us. It is very moving for me and for everyone participating. This is just the beginning and we have a long way to go. It is true that people in the hill [...] are far behind our neighbouring state, Nepal."
And it wasn't just the LGBTQIA people who made it to the march – many straight people also came to support the cause. "I am here for my friend, who is gay. We study in the same college and are really good friends," said Jay, a student from Alipurduar district of West Bengal.
Another organiser Lakpa Tamang said, "We are thankful to Supreme Court of India. After a long fight the Supreme Court quashed the colonial-era law that criminalised homosexuality. Now we have to convince people in the hill to accept that we can choose our life partner according to our desire."
And finally, after everyone gathered at Chowrasta, they promised to meet again in Darjeeling and other Northeastern towns next year for the next parade.