Awadh Queer Pride Parade, held on 9 April, was the first ever in the state, exactly 18 years after India held its first Queer Pride Parade in Kolkata. The event finally came to Lucknow on Sunday, attended by more than 300 people, largely from LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer) community, along with activists and intellectuals, students and eminent personalities of Lucknow.
Many of them had come from as far away as Mumbai, Chandigarh, Kolkata, Chandigarh and Jaipur.
“This was a full-fledged Queer Pride Parade,” said Darvesh Singh Yadvendra, the organiser of the event.
“For the first time, not only was it attended by LGBTQ members, but their family members turned out in support as well. It shows that they are also getting acceptability.”
Yadvendra said the parade had two asks – to celebrate the diversity of sexuality and gender, and to protest the harassment and discrimination faced by LGBTQ community. “There have been cases where people have committed suicides, undergone tortures,” he said. “We have seen discrimination in the family, at the work place, and the society.”
Rohan Pujari, ‘Mr Gay World 2017 India’ runner-up, flew down from Mumbai to support the initiative. Pujari said, “He feels love in the fiza-e-awadh (air of Awadh)”
The parade took place from Sikandarbagh Crossings to Hazartgunj – General Post Office (GPO), approximately 1.5 km distance and took more than 2 hours to cover, as the community was celebrating and dancing on beats of Dhol.
Traditional and western colourful dresses ruled the pride. One participant appeared in an angel dress, many felt elated as they did drag for the first time to express themselves freely. Few community members came in Burkha (common dress for Muslim women), while some wore masks to protect their identity.
The people on the road were curious to see what was happening around them, people clicked selfies, photos and video of the pride. By evening, these were viral in the city.
“We started the preparation for a whole year,” said Yadvendra. He further said, “We have to engage with whosoever is in power. We took proper permission (for the parade), and it was given by the present BJP regime. Ashok Row Kavi, gay rights activist and ex-journalist and founder of Humsafar Trust, attended the pride with his team. He said ‘he is glad to see young people taking lead and events like pride or film festivals will help in mainstreaming the community issues”.
The pride march came to an end at GPO Hazartgunj.
(Yashwinder Singh is a LGBT Rights activist and has been working for the community for the last 12 years. He set up Haryana's first LGBT centre in 2006 and established India's first transgender beauty parlour and training centre in 2009 at Faridabad. He is into photography and documentary film-maker on social issues. He currently manages Humsafar Trust's Delhi office.)
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