Today, the stretch of roads between August Kranti Maidan and Girgaon Chowpatty came alive with slogans, the colours of the rainbow, and a whole lot of love. The annual Mumbai Queer Azaadi Pride March was held on January 28, and the crowd that walked in it managed to halt traffic and celebrate being LGBTQ, all whilst being peaceful yet assertive. The slogans and signs were aimed at bringing down Section 377 and fighting homophobia.
The stage at August Kranti Maidan.
Harish Iyer, a prominent face of the LGBTQ community in India and the pride march. “Why just a picture! Let’s take a selfie too,” he said, with a smile.
Speeches being made before the march could begin.
Roshni, who is an absolute diva, has been attending the Mumbai pride march every year.
Dressing up, desi style.
“So, when did your son come out to you?”
“Actually, I came out to him. And he always had an inkling.”
Akshay hopes that he will win this year’s edition of Mr Gay India!
The pride march had a significant number of foreigners who participated too.
“Do you mind disclosing your name?”
“Umm, I’m not sure. Actually, okay. Actually, let it be.”
Dr. Sam of the NGO called Impulse distributes condoms with the name ‘Love’. “The idea is to promote the importance of safe sex, and love!”
Soumit, dressed in a white and gold outfit, complete with wings, poses with a flag of The Hamsafar Trust.
Meet Shvetlana, who was shy, giggly, and flattered – all at the same time.
This bunch yelled the most goose bump-raising slogans. “Ghar ke andar aazaadi, ghar ke baahar aazaadi, sex karne ki aazaadi, sex nahi karne ki aazaadi.”
They addressed these slogans to a policeman standing closeby. He looked at them, and couldn’t help but smile.
But they were also pretty fabulous, and invited me to do a jig with them. “Pyaar se lenge aazaadi, keh ke lenge aazaadi, thumak ke lenge aazaadi!”
Most people – men and women – ended up wearing the flags in their buns.
I couldn’t help but notice how happy everyone was. There was a fiery rage in the sloganeering, but once the Nashik dhol began playing, everyone broke into a dance.
Carrying the flag was a surreal experience.
Not just a phase, not “a choice”. It’s a sexual orientation, not a curse. #TakeDownSection377.
My favourite moment was when I overheard someone say this during the march:
“This is a country that won’t strike down Section 377. It is also a country where pride marches are held. I don’t understand this country anymore.”