Mumbai Pride Parade: Not just a symbol of protest, it is a celebration of who we are

Here are some answers to frequently asked questions regarding the Mumbai Pride Parade, also known as the Queer Azaadi March

Harish Iyer January 28, 2017 09:49:16 IST
Mumbai Pride Parade: Not just a symbol of protest, it is a celebration of who we are

The Mumbai Pride is touted to be one of the biggest pride parades of India. I still remember the day we started, around nine years ago... I call Mumbai  the queer capital of the country. Despite cases like this, where a bar refused entry to my friends and me, I still feel that it is easier to live a life of gay abandon here. That makes the Mumbai Pride one of the most iconic calendar events in the country — and in this subcontinent. People from all across India and the world come for the Mumbai Pride.

The Pride March is not just a symbol of protest, it is a celebration of who we are. We do raise some very important slogans but most importantly, we rise to the occasion and celebrate equality in the true spirit of the word. At the Pride March, you will see some everyday people marching with extraordinary spirit of acceptance. They will be wearing love in their hearts and happiness on their sleeves. They will be marching for acceptance, and for equality, and for a prejudice-free life for all.

Here are some answers to frequently asked questions regarding the Pride:

What is the Mumbai Pride Parade?

Pride March is a peaceful march by queer individuals and their allies and supporters, undertaken to celebrate their sexuality with pride, assert their rights and let society know that not only do we exist, but also thrive. Mumbai Pride is organised annually by Queer Azaadi Mumbai (QAM), which is a collective of individuals and organisations who have voluntarily come together for the queer cause.

Mumbai Pride Parade Not just a symbol of protest it is a celebration of who we are

From Queer Azadi Mumbai/Facebook

Why is this an important event?

Queer individuals are people whose sexual orientation or gender identity may not conform to societal norms. In India, the queer community has not only faced discrimination and stigma at the hands of society, but their life was further traumatised by the British who enacted laws to criminalise their very existence. That law, the infamous Section 377 of the IPC, is still a part of our statute books.

Isn't it illegal to be gay in India? What if we are misunderstood as gay and taken in by the police?

Darling, I am not writing this from a prison. Promise. Being gay has never been illegal in this country. It is only illegal to have sex 'against the order of nature'. Which I interpret as “non-procreatory” sex. So any sex, even between heterosexuals that doesn’t result in the formation of a child could be termed illegal. Anal sex, oral sex and (if we think deeply and define loosely) even masturbation, could come under the “unnatural sexual offenses” of Section 377. We are fighting Section 377, and we can only hope that this gets deleted or is rightfully read-down in our legal books soon.

Who are the celebrities coming to Pride this year?

Everyone who comes to the Mumbai Pride comes in their personal capacity. We do not specially invite any Bollywood/Hollywood celebrity for the pride as such. This is an equal platform where everyone who has come out in support is a celebrity in their own right.

Like for instance, Pradeep Divgikar to me, is a bigger celebrity than his son — my friend and love Sushant Divgikar.  He has supported every LGBT event and has been a beacon of hope for many fathers who shy away from supporting their son’s sexuality. Aruna Desai, mother of Abhishek Desai,  is a celebrity to me for her undying support to the LGBT community and all her son's friends. Similarly, we have Joyonto Mukherjee and Akhil Shahani who are celebrities to me for standing up and marching with the banners of the institute that they head. Preet Sharma is a celebrity to me for being the strongest, cutest, straight ally, who has managed to get a group of his MBBS student friends to march under the banner “Future Doctors For Equality” . There are mothers of tiny tots who would be marching with the banner "Moms For Equality", headed by Ritu from Journey About Mast Moms. All of them are important. All of them are our celebrities.

Will the press be there?

Well, yes, in large numbers. However, if you don’t wish to get photographed, do let them know. In our experience though, people in masks tend to get photographed more than people who are out in their whole gay glory.

Remember, not everyone who marches in the Pride is gay. There are several straight allies who join in the pride. And sometimes I feel that they are in the majority. So don’t fret. Even if you do get photographed, you can say you are a straight ally and were there to support your friend.

Can corporate houses attend the Pride?

This is highly disputed. I personally believe, if we march to offices with the message of inclusivity and demand inclusive policies we should also accept them to march our prides as they are, with their banners. However, I am personally against the thought of it looking like a corporate funded pride parade.

Feel free to carry your corporate banners stating that your company support equality and supports the Mumbai pride. However, to adhere with the Queer Azaadi Mumbai policy, kindly avoid using the Pride logo with your corporate logo.

Will there be disability assistance?

Following the fantastic precedent set by Namma Pride, Bengaluru, this year’s Mumbai Pride Parade is disabled-friendly. This is the first disability friendly pride in Maharashtra. The Mumbai Pride Parade would have a ramp for disabled persons to get on to the stage, if they wish to speak. I will be on stage or besides the stage. Please feel free to reach out to me if you wish to speak.

Where is the official post-Pride party?

The official post-Pride party is at Upstairs, behind Everest Building in Tardeo. You could read through the rules, ticket prices and details here on their Facebook event page.

The most important question — where is the Pride?

The Pride is at August Kranti Maidan (closest railway station: Grant Road) at 3 pm. We assemble at 3, we start off by 4 pm. So be there by 3 to experience the fun!


Look forward to meeting you!

Updated Date: