The ‘7th Rainbow Pride Walk’, organised by The Parichay Collective(LGBQ Community of Odisha), Meera Parida's NGO Sakha and SAATHII NGO was held on Saturday, 1 September in Bhubaneswar, Odisha.
The pride walk, which witnessed thousands of members of the LGBTQIA community taking to the streets, had its focus not just on LGBTQIA rights but also intersectionality and inclusion, Bijaya Biswal, Chief Organiser of Bhubaneswar Pride told The Quint.
“We were addressing not only LGBTQIA-specific problems in the Pride, but the general social constructs of “shame”, “untouchability”, the majority deciding what is best for the minorities, class bias and sex discrimination within and outside the community, and the general idea about the freedom of love,” he said.
Fight for Social Acceptance in Odisha
Speaking about the many problems faced by the LGBTQIA members in a state like Odisha, and in Bhubaneswar – a “Tier-II” city – Biswal said that the fight for social acceptance was even harder.
In an effort to encourage those scared to declare their identities, the gender-rights groups involved in the Pride Walk arranged a series of Pre-Pride events as a “mode of social education”, Biswal adds.
These included sessions in school on gender and sexuality, film screenings, poetry and storytelling, literature readings and open forum discussions, which took place over a span of one month to spread awareness among both the community members and those who identified as straight.
Abolishment of Section 377
One of the main objectives of the Pride Walk was also to demand the abolishing of the contentious Article 377, which criminalises homosexuality.
Intersectionality Within the LGBTQ Community
Biswal says that since Odisha is a state that is made up of tribals, construction workers who keep migrating, villagers displaced when industrialists build their enterprises, street vendors and many more social groups, an LGBTQIA movement cannot exist in isolation, “without being intersectional”.
Our trans community is constituted by a range of people in different disciplines – hard working sex workers and individuals who have made it to authoritative positions in academic institutes and administrative services of the State.Bijaya Biswal to The Quint
The Bhubaneswar Pride, 2018, was definitely another stepping stone in favour of the LGBTQIA community, with members from within the community and outside the community, all standing together in solidarity, after being “invisible for ages”, says Biswal.
Pride was just a stepping stone for our far-fetched dream of equality in every aspect. As of now, I can say that the start has been encouraging and affirmative.Bijaya Biswal to The Quint