It was a celebration of the peculiar.
I came out to my parents in July. In September, the Supreme Court decriminalized gay sex by scrapping Section 377. In December, I walked my first pride.
Walking your first pride changes you. It may be too soon for me to say it, because I literally just got back home from it and haven’t had time to reflect. But I’m just going to take the word of my very exhausted but pure conscience for it. Pride changes you. How?
United we stand
It’s a long way to pride. A really fucking long way. At least for me. I had to go through an excruciating stage of denial, self-hatred, suicidal tendencies, self-tolerance, self-acceptance, crying for help, seeking help, love, heartbreak, coming out, and coming out, and coming out, and THE coming out, and the legalization of my existence for me to get to Tulsi Park on this Sunday afternoon.
Men, women, children and everyone in between.
The crowd that showed up for the Pride was insane. There were dogs, children, courageous teenagers, people like me, who’d never attended pride before, people who’ve been attending since the first Bangalore Pride, trans people, bi people, all the letters of the queer alphabet, sex workers, straight allies, vegans… yes, vegans! They even had signs and t-shirts. You can imagine how accepting it was if vegans go all out! Not that they are ever afraid of going all out, but you get the point.
It was loud. It was colorful. It was a celebration!
All under one rainbow.
I started the Pride with a straight friend of mine. We were intimidated when we arrived at the meeting point. Then we met more people. We walked a bit more. I met more queer people. We walked, exchanging our coming out stories. We even ended up at a pub later where I hung out with other queer men for the first time in my queer life. It was so cliched. But as Greta Gerwig puts it, 'The most important things in life are cliches.'
When I came out to my parents, one of the first things they told me was to leave this country. To move to New Zealand where my sister lives. It wasn’t a ‘you can’t be gay and live where we live’ kind of thing. They were concerned about my safety and the quality of life I would lead. But after the pride, my vision of the future is clearer, less chaotic. Maybe, just maybe, I don’t have to leave. Maybe, I could get married here. Maybe, I could have kids here. I hate the idea of both of those things, but I want to live in a place where that can be realistic and not a pipe dream. And maybe India’s getting there.
The end of the walk.
That’s why Pride is a necessity. It doesn’t have to be about defiance. It can just be a celebration of the peculiar. Even if we legalize gay sex or achieve marriage equality. There’s always more colors to pride and it does something to you. That’s why I repeat. There’s something about pride.
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By Arjun Raj
Photographs by Arjun Raj