Feb 112013
Hyderabad gets its own first queer parade

After months of efforts by the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) community in the city and their supporters, Hyderabad’s first ever queer pride parade was organized last week at Necklace Road.

It was perhaps one of the boldest statements made by the LGBT community, about their identity, in the city.

“The idea was to tell people that we are not a different species!” says 35-year-old Jayati Mathur, a corporate professional who is part of Wajood, an organization that addresses the needs of the LGBT community and works on building awareness. “It was a celebration, a carnival of sorts wherein we were absolutely emphatic about who we are,” she says.

‘Gay by birth, proud by choice’ was a slogan flaunted by many while others like ‘gay couples don’t make gay children, straight couples do!’ and ‘Get one thing straight, we are not!’ was the prevalent sentiment.

Getting permission from the police and traffic department for the parade wasn’t so easy, though. Initially, they were told that the police wouldn’t allow any protest rally or demonstration in wake of the various dharnas and demonstrations by pro-Telangana groups that were happening in the city.

“But eventually, we got the necessary permissions after a few months. The media’s support in raising the issue helped and Facebook is where it all started really. We got support from various other groups and organization from across the country. For instance, Hamsafar Trust from Mumbai connected us to more people who could help us,” says Jayati.

As a result, more than two thousand people from Hyderabad and other cities were part of the parade, which included women’s groups like Anveshi, others like Surakasha and Hero’s Project and also corporates like Google, who walked under their respective banners.

There were also quite a few straight supporters and in some cases, like 33-year-old queer activist Vijay Mogli, parents and families too. “My parents sort of threw a pleasant surprise when they told me they’d participate,” he says. “They are pretty old and couldn’t have walked in the parade, really, but their presence meant a great deal to me. It was also a significant step closer for them to acknowledge my homosexual status.”

When Mogli’s parents realized that he showed homosexual tendencies, they were pretty upset and even took him to a psychiatrist. He was prescribed heavy anti-psychotic drugs and also electro-convulsive therapy. “I never gave up trying to make my parents understand my preferences. Over the years, they have extended their support in their own way. Their presence at the parade, I hope, touched a chord with other parents and families too. We envision starting a parent’s network sometime in the future,” he says.

“Besides this, we are looking to reach out to as many people as we can through plays, book readings, film screenings, discussions etc,” says Andy Silveira, a research scholar. “Unfortunately, many still think it’s all a western import! We need to sensitise people and create more awareness.”