In Dehradun, the first-ever Pride Walk signals a step forward in the movement for equal rights

Dehradun saw its first major event in support of LGBTQ rights in form of a Pride Walk on 30 July 2017. Organised by the the Prayojan Kalyan Samiti, Dehradun Pride was attended by over 100 people from all over Uttarakhand, as well as other states like Punjab, Haryana, Chennai, Kolkata, Lucknow, Madhya Pradesh. The walk began at Ashtley Hall, traversing through the Parade Ground Road, Sarvey Chowk and Tibetan Market — before finally, heading back to Ashtley Hall.

Uttarakhand, also known as Devbhoomi, is popular in India for being the site of religious pilgrimages like the Char Dham Yatra, holy significance, temples and conservative belief systems. While the place and its stories are rooted in Indian mythology and history, it was the first time that an event of such significance in the fight for universal sexual freedom was organised here.

As the participants of the Pride Walk traversed through some of the major market areas in Dehradun, the sounds of dhol accompanied them. Even the rain proved to be no impediment, as the participants danced along the route,  chanting slogans like:
"Kaun si dhara sabse battar, 377, 377. Leke rahenge azadi, par pyaar se lenge azadi".

Natasha, 26, a local transgender resident and secretary of the Prayojan Kalyan Samiti, told Firstpost, "While we are slowly doing sensitisation programmes through cultural events and clean up drives trying to bring the LGBTQ community in Uttarakhand in the mainstream, organising a national event like Pride was always going to be a challenge, but we got more than we expected. The whole event and the days leading up to it became more memorable because we were hosting friends from other states as our guests and trying to make this happen. And the satisfaction comes from the fact that we started preparations only three weeks before, but pulled it off with the logistical support of many individuals. The footfall at the event wouldn't have been so high if it wasn't for people making an effort to travel all the way in the monsoons at such a short notice and supporting the march."

Here are vignettes from the Dehradun Pride Walk:

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Dehradun usually witnesses processions of pilgrims calling out religious chants. But on 30 July, the locals looked on as the colourful Pride parade passed by, with people calling out slogans about sexual choices. This was a first for Dehradun. All photos: Sahil Jagasia

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A local looks on at the participants holding aloft a rainbow flag, as she passes in a tuk-tuk.

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A bus driver and conductor stare with curiosity at Natasha (L) and Asheem from the organising committee engage in a whirl of 'fugdi', while a traffic personnel guides the crowd.

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As the rally comes up behind them, two local onlookers hold hands and walk past.

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Innovative slogans were spotted at the Dehradun Pride. 

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Members of the community who are not yet publicly out turned up to show their support, with covered faces.

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Sofia, an activist from the Kinnar community, dances to the sounds of the dhol at Dehradun Pride.

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Two friends embrace amidst the chaos.

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Participants at the Pride Walk celebrate. 

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The Dehradun Pride Walk participants may have taken small steps along the actual route — but it was a giant stride for equal rights.


Published Date: Aug 06, 2017 11:40 am | Updated Date: Aug 06, 2017 11:40 am


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