‘Pride’ – the very word would evoke a special sensation within me. I would see photographs of queer pride marches in the newspapers – so many people like me walking with rainbow flags, so much colour, and so much revelry. I would wonder if I would ever walk in a pride march.
This year that wish came true when I joined the ‘19th Kolkata Rainbow Pride Walk’ on December 18, 2022. It was a huge personal milestone for me.
Even a year ago, I would worry that if I participated in a pride march, people would come to know about my sexuality. What if photographs of me walking in the march got published somewhere? What would my family say? Would my school and college friends judge me? In fact, I had decided that if I ever joined a pride march, I would mask my face.
Today I have no such worry or fear. For the first time in my life, I have come to know many queer persons, mostly in the year gone by. This has given me strength. I no longer feel lonely. It doesn’t matter anymore to me what people would say, and I thoroughly enjoyed my first pride march.
There were many others like me who walked in a pride march for the first time. But some among them did not want their photographs to be published in social media. I suppose it will take longer for them to be comfortable about being visible as queer persons.
The walk this year started from outside Lady Brabourne College, passed through Park Street, and ended at Kolkata Maidan. I came to know that many restaurants on Park Street and elsewhere were decked in rainbow pride colours on the occasion of the Kolkata pride march. Perhaps this was their way of showing solidarity with the queer communities.
However, there have been incidents where these very restaurants denied entry to trans persons and working class people as patrons. There was also the incident of the late Suzette Jordan being denied entry into a pub called Ginger in 2014 because she had been a victim of gang rape! When I think of these incidents, I wonder how supportive these establishments truly are.
On the organizing of the pride march, I think it was not publicised widely enough. Many people I know could not find out when and where the march would take place. Some ended up arriving at the wrong place for the start of the walk.
All said and done, I look forward to the ‘Kolkata Rainbow Pride Walk’ becoming bigger, better and providing an opportunity to more and more queer people from different backgrounds to celebrate their love without fear or shame.
About the main photo: The author poses with a ‘Kolkata Rainbow Pride Walk’ flag on Park Street, the main route of the walk. Photo credit: Hiya