The Delhi Queer Pride Parade is in its 10th edition and will be held on Sunday, November 12. One of the largest in the country, the parade is organised by the Delhi Queer Pride Committee every year to celebrate lesbian, gay, transgender, bisexual and queer people and their allies. The pride march is also conducted with the aim to increase the LGBTQIA+ community’s visibility, promote equality and demand equal rights as other citizens. Over the years, the march has served as a platform for other marginalised communities like Dalits, differently abled, tribals etc to demand freedom and attain solidarity.
However, the pride parades have been criticised by many for not really helping the cause. We talked to a few people who had reservations about attending the pride as they were unsure what the event stood for anymore.
Prateek Dev Vimal, a designer based out of Amsterdam, questioned why the queer community needed an event to celebrate its existence.
I don’t think I need a pride parade to celebrate my existence. I celebrate my identity every moment I breathe, live and thrive with it.
Prateek’s sentiments were echoed by a marketing professional working for a pharmaceutical research company in Bangalore. He added,
Why do strangers need to know about my sexuality? It should not make a difference for me to advertise my sexuality. In a country like ours where you can’t have intercourse and marry the people you like, we’re obviously apprehensive about being noticed in such event.
Vriksh Verma, an accessories designer who runs his own brand, talked about how pride was a little exhibitionist and was reduced to being a mere social event of the calender.
In pride, people dress too loud and that’s not my thing. I’m out and proud but I don’t have to be flamboyant to make a statement. Most people just go there to socialize.
A fashion stylist and blogger based in Delhi, Karan too reverberated Vriksh’s thoughts about the hype of the pride. He said,
The over-the-top flair of the pride creates a stereotype, which leads to more people walking in the closet than moving out of it.
He also mentioned that the pride was not inclusive of everybody in the LGBT community as he believed it only represented a small sub-section. This thought proved to be a common thread among people who argued that pride march was a close-knit event and was itself rattled with several issues.
Abhyuday Gupta, an HR professional working in Gurugram, said,
If pride is about inclusivity, then whom is it for? It mostly includes cisgender gay men. The participation from lesbians and transgenders is so less. And even if you do dress the way you like, you’re only expressing your gender identity for one day. And that happens in a close, protected space. What about the other days when you’re out in the real world?
Ranjita Sinha, a trans activist from Bengal, also felt that the pride alienates the hijra community.
The problem with a lot of pride parades, like in Delhi, is that they have a lot of men who cross-dress and that too only for a day. So the hijra and kothi community feels that cisgender gay men have hijacked their sphere. Also, the hijra and the kothi community feel that the pride is elitist and largely chose not to be a part of the parades.
Rudrani Chettri, a trans model and activist based out of Delhi, also felt that the trans and hijra community was discriminated within the LGBT sphere.
The most visible queer identity is of a trans woman. Most of us don’t come from a privileged family or have many resources. Most of us are either do sex work or begging in order to earn a living. We are people who believe in love, not hate. But I decided not participate in pride when a few people from the queer community, most of whom belong from upper-class society, made hate speeches at the pride marches against the trans and hijra community.
Cisgender people are those whose gender identity matches with sex they were assigned at birth. Contrarily, transgender is an umbrella term and include people whose gender identity or expression differs from their assigned sex.
A female student from Jawaharlal Nehru Univerity (JNU) in Delhi questioned why people still felt alienated despite there being an existing community. She said,
One day we show solidarity and other times we don’t interact at all. The pride feels like a meaningless gesture. There are five token hijras in the march who themselves are marginalized in the larger misogynistic culture. How does one engage with the internal struggles of the community? How many gay men are in a relationship with hijras?
A teacher, Yash Raj Goswami was also apprehensive about whether the queer pride meant being inclusive in the LGBT community or exclusivized the community as a whole.
I am not very sure about what it stands for now. I mean the message it wants to send out lacks coherence. I am not sure what am I representing or standing for, when I am there. And that kind of makes me apprehensive. I would like to believe it’s inclusive, but I also get an impression that there are some who are more equal than the others.
However, he stressed that though people can have opinions about the pride parade, its existence was essential.
I can choose to not to attend it because it exists. By no means, I wish to diminish the struggle people have undergone for it to exist in the first place so that the likes of me can choose not to attend it.
A British expat, who is the head of CSR for a UK multinational and has been living in Delhi for over a decade, had a different take on pride march.
I feel that I’m a guest here so not keen to participate in anything that could be construed as a demonstration against government policy.
Most people we talked to said they would either not attend the pride for the aforementioned reasons or would just go for the heck of it. Perhaps the community at large should introspect as to why there exists biases for one another and why a few sections feel alienated within the community. If queer pride parade is meant to bring the community as a whole to the public eye or serve a greater purpose, shouldn’t it at least ease out the process of coming out by providing a support structure rather than make it more difficult?
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