Walking with pride, full of hope for road ahead

Members and allies march to celebrate the LGBTQ community in Mumbai on Saturday afternoon.

Members and allies march to celebrate the LGBTQ community in Mumbai on Saturday afternoon.   | Photo Credit: Arunangsu Roy Chowdhury

At first pride march in city since Sec. 377 verdict, LGBTQ community highlights future challenges


At the 11th pride march in Mumbai on Saturday — the first since the Supreme Court decriminalised homosexuality — the city’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) community set the stage to expand its horizons. From queer individuals to allies, around 2,000 people marched firom August Kranti Maidan to Opera House and back, shouting slogans of ‘pride for all’.

While several individuals, empowered by the verdict on Section 377, came out for the first time, community members from other cities and countries were there to support them.

Rawshun N’raj (21), who came out for the first time for the march, said he did it as a tribute to those who had come out before him. “I first came out to my dog and then to others. I could do so only because others have stood up for us, fighting battle after battle. There’ll be nothing like it if I am able to inspire at least one person,” he said.

Sunil Chingwani (48) and Laurence Coutinho (51) were celebrating the silver jubilee of their relationship. “We met for the first time at the release of the movie Bombay. We have come out openly for the first time to celebrate our relationship. The verdict has empowered us, and we are happy to be seeing this day together,” Mr. Chingwani said.

Some people brought along pets to spread the message of love and compassion.

Going ahead, the community members called for a focus on accomplishing other rights. “We may have got Section 377 scrapped for good, but marriage and adoption issues persist for the community. We have a long road ahead, and while we celebrate, we also need to realise that we need to move onto these,” Ashok Row Kavi from Humsafar Trust said.

Simran Shaikh, who identifies as a hijra, came with her niece to promote inclusiveness. “My niece accepts me wholeheartedly. I have received my liberty and dignity back, but the mindset of the people needs to change too,” Ms. Shaikh said.

“With the verdict done, the goal is to sensitise people and provide a safe and inclusive platform to our youngsters for taking forward this movement. We are the children of this society, and together we can create a happy and accepting world for all,” Ankura Patil, who had travelled from Vadodara, said.

From a group of Dalit and Muslim queers to another from the northeast, participants were mindful of the need to create a safe space for minorities. “We lack supportive spaces for queer individuals. We need to build more intersectional communities and movement. Islamophobia within the community and outside needs to be erased. We are here to stay,” Rafiul, a member of the Queer Muslim Project, said.

Pavel Sagolsem, a member of the Chinky Homo Project that aims to create a digital anthology of lived experience narratives of queer people from the Northeast, also took part in the march to bridge the gap between youth from big cities and the Northeast. She said, “We are trying to build narratives for the people of the northeast. Being away from cities, we face a lot of isolation. There is a clear gap. While the youngsters from Mumbai need to be heard in the northeast, the youngsters from northeast need to be heard too.”

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An earlier version of this article misspelt Pavel Sagolsem’s name. The error is regretted.

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Printable version | May 27, 2020 5:51:38 PM |

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