I attended Delhi Gay Pride on the 26th. I heard a lot about gay pride festivals and how fun they are but had no idea about it so I was so excited to be there. I arrived in Delhi on the 24th and Adam and Megan also joined me for the parade. They were supposed to go to Benares but they changed their flights and came to Delhi to join me at gay pride. The Gay Pride started from Barakhambha Road and ended in a bar called M Lounge in Sector 15, Noida. I arrived at the parade place with Adam and Megan and what I saw was just amazing.
They had hired band parties for music. When I reached, there were about two thousand people present. I had asked the organizer how many people were they expecting and he had said that last year they were expecting somewhere around 500 but about 1500 participated and this year they were expecting something like 2500 participants. He told me that the media was also very supportive to them last year and he was expecting for the same this year as well. When I reached there, I found a lot of media people covering the event. Police were also there to help them. I don’t know if they were helping the organizing committee because they were supposed to or they just wanted to but they were helping.
I was just wandering here and there and watching people doing things. I had thought that I would be talking to the participants but after reaching there, I decided not to disturb them at that moment because they were extremely happy and enjoying themselves and I did not want to disturb them by making them talk to me. The most interesting thing for me was that the participants were not only gays, but a lot of straight people and families were also there. A lot of foreigners were also there. I talked with a few of the foreigners about why they were there in the parade and all of them answered almost the same thing- to support the cause.
The organizing committee had arranged masks to cover the faces for the people who did not want to reveal their identities and a lot of the participants, even straights and families, were using these masks. I know that gay culture is not accepted yet in India so it made sense to me for the gays to wear the masks but I did not understand why straight people were using the masks. What was their reason to participate in the parade if they were so shy? I did not like it. �I think everyone should come forward and talk about the issue; only then the gay community in India can get its social identity.
I heard a few gays talking with the media and when the media asked them how they feel being a gay, all the people said the same thing- that people make fun of them and they do not have equal rights. The parade was getting started now and the energy, joy and happiness could easily be felt there. The band players had started playing their instruments, everybody was so happy, a lot of people were dancing with their partners, a few of them were alone and they were just dancing and jumping by raising the rainbow flag in the air.
The parade was supposed to start at 5 PM but obviously it was also delayed�as most of the things in India, but this was the first time in my life when I was enjoying the delay. Finally the parade started sometime around 5.45 and to be honest this instance of my seeeing the energy, joy and happiness I saw there, was only my second experience in my whole life. I had seen the same amongst the people of Mehndiganj in the year 2007 when they were going to start their rally against Coca-Cola. Lots of loud music, people jumping, shouting, dancing, laughing… It was awesome. The atmosphere and the people there made me full of energy.
They had a huge rainbow flag and almost twenty people were holding it, jumping with it and people were dancing under this flag, music was on… wow…it was just awesome. The participants of the parade were very mod and liberal, they were wearing very modern dresses. A lot of them had designed special masks, caps, hats and dresses for themselves. �I saw a few girls wearing only shorts and bras, and they had tattoos which is very uncommon to see in India. I had never ever seen those kinds of dresses on Indian girls. A lot of hijras were also there. They were also dressed somewhat differently than what they usually dress like.
The parade started moving and more and more people started joining it. A lot of students came to join us. The number of participants had reached up to something like 3000 by now. A lot of people were standing at both sides of the road and just watching the parade. I saw many people coming out of the restaurants and other shops and they also joined us. The participants had designed different kinds of banners, posters, flyers and a lot of them had got different slogans written over their clothes and bodies.
A lot of people had gotten their face painted in rainbow color. I had brought HIV & AIDS education pamphlets to distribute amongst the participants and general people and Adam and Megan helped me doing it. I gave them about 100 pamphlets and they distributed them within a few minutes. I noticed something strange that a few people just did not want to take the pamphlet but a few were very curious. A few people came to us asking for a pamphlet. There was an old guy who took our pamphlet and came back to Adam and he wanted to talk about the material written in it.
Adam asked him to talk to me and he came to me and asked do you work for HIV & AIDS and I said yes. And then he asked me if I was supporter of the gay community or gay rights and I again said yes. And then he told me something strange. He asked me how I could be a supporter of gay rights and then work on HIV & AIDS at the same time. He said that gays are responsible for the spread of HIV all over the world. He seemed kind angry when he was talking and I wanted to talk to him about it but the parade was moving so I just gave him my business card and asked him to meet me later.
He never contacted me but it was strange to see him blaming the gay community for spread of HIV & AIDS. I know that gays are at higher risk of contracting HIV than straights but it doesn’t mean that they are responsible for the spread for this disease. Many people say that gays do much safer sex than straights. I think the Indian government’s HIV & AIDS program and corruption in the public health sector is responsible for the spread of HIV, not gays. I listened to a gay guy talking with a journalist and this guy was saying that he had been in gay relationship for the past five years and he was proud to be a gay. He said that gays are the people who do safe sex and know a more about STDs than straights.
The journalist asked him if he had informed his family about his gay life and he said that his father knew about it but his mother sometimes told him that he is also becoming part of hijra community. I have noticed that people do not know the difference between gays and hijras. Finally the parade arrived at Jantar Mantar and stopped where they had organized speeches of social activists, gay rights supporters, different NGO members and a few gays also. Few gays who were wearing masks during the parade took their mask off when they came on the stage. It seemed like everything changed within a few hours. They were shy before starting the parade but not anymore.
They said very loudly that now they were not shy anymore. They were proud to be gay. Speech happened about section 377 and a few other gay rights related issues and finally the organizer asked everyone to light up a candle. I also lit up a candle. Finally the parade was over but now there was a party left which was supposed to start from 9.30 PM at M Lounge bar in Sector 15, Noida. It was about 7 o’clock now and they asked the participants to gather together again at 8.30. They had arranged a few buses to take participants at the party place. I was so excited for the party.