The month of June is known as the Pride month and this year being a special one as it has been 50 years of the LGBT Pride.
The month of June is known as the Pride month crediting to the incident in 1969; the Stonewall riots in New York, wherein a the police raid was conducted in early morning and was considered as a major landmark in the gay liberation movement, resulting in the fight for the basic human rights who had identified themselves as a part of the queer community.
“It was the day when Judy Garland (widely considered a gay icon) passed away. It was the first ever-major sign of the LGBTQ people coming together and saying that ‘enough is enough’. They were not going to take police brutality anymore. And then, it eventually turned into a gathering of people from LGBTQ rainbow spectrums to come together peacefully,” shared Keshav Suri, founder of the Keshav Suri Foundation, a community who has committed towards serving the purpose.
He further expresses that the LGBTQ community is about love and acceptance, especially acceptance of the people across the rainbow spectrum. “On an Indian perspective, it was a way to show the government as well as the judicial system that there are people from these communities who are an equal part of the country. This is an alternative way for us to be able to live with dignity and pride,” he pointed out.
It was in the month of September of 2018, when a panel of 5 judges gave a unanimous verdict of decriminalizing homosexuality leading to the scrapping Section 377 off from the Indian Constitution. But despite the law being struck down, there is still an ongoing fight for social acceptance as equals.
The present year has been considered quite a special as it comes to the LGBT pride with a full circle of completing 50 years. But amidst the achievements, the problems have also progressed with the passage of time. Most recently, Pune hosted its 9th pride march, which saw people shouting slogans of inclusivity and expressing their gratitude towards the Supreme Court for striking off section 377 and making homosexuality legal.
Subhajit Sikder, a research scholar in Centre for Women Studies and a Dalit queer activist says, “Pride month signifies a sense of belonging to a part of a huge history, a history of struggling to understand ourselves, each other and the world around us while trying hard to belong together, moreover history of a continuous process of imagining a liberated world and last but not the least a history of coming to love ourselves.” When asked how he celebrates the pride, he said, “The feeling of being a tiny part of a huge struggle and being able to contribute to it is in itself an amazing feeling. I celebrate it by remembering the past and the journeys we have covered together with my friends and talking about it to the new queer people who perhaps do not know this history.”
As well as being a month-long celebration, Pride month is also an opportunity to raise political awareness and peaceful protest for the community. The parade is a prominent feature of the Pride month and there are many street parties, community events, poetry readings, public speaking, film and street festivals and educational sessions.
Kashish film festival is one such celebration that spreads the happy quotient Pride month with enthusiasm.
The 10th edition International Queer Film Festival is to be held from June 12 to June 16 and will showcase 160 LGBTQ films from across 43 countries.
“This film festival has always stood the test of time in its support of the LGBTQ Community, even when homosexuality was considered a ‘crime’ in India, KASHISH continued to promote Queer art and bring their stories into fore. It continues to bring authentic stories with queer narratives and presents the opportunity for everyone to be heard and represented as equals.” Keshav adds.
Meanwhile, Google has also honoured the Pride month with an interactive video, visualising 50 years of parades. The Doodle illustrates five decades of LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer) history starting from 1969 till 2019.
Google Doodler, Nate Swinehart said, “Google Doodle is my little paper love letter to everyone out there, whom I look up to as examples of strength and hope. You all inspire me to be true to myself and proud of who I am (sic).”
Amrita Sarkar a trans-rights activist feels that the pride month is something that people believe in the band of colours in gender and sexuality. “We feel that this is the month we can show our colours. We can do whatever we want. This is an expression of freedom”, she said.
“This (the pride month) is not an isolated event but a common one throughout the globe.” She added.
Drag queen, Gentleman Gaga expressed, “I think being Gay is a blessing and it’s something I am thankful for every single day” adding, “I am happy being a man and have no qualms about my man-self. I don’t think I was born in the wrong body.”
Although, there are people who have come out of their shells to celebrate their natural sexuality, there is still narrow-mindedness prevalent amongst Indians who force people from the rainbow communities to hide their identity and become what the society wants from them. Hope another few years into the future and a separate month for the cause won’t be needed anymore as the queers and the rest will surely be on the same side.