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Queer Pride

It's that time of the year again. Different queer collectives across the country are gathering round to discuss pride events. There are talks of pride this year commemorating the anniversary of the Naz Foundation judgment - the 2nd of July. Others would like it shifted to the less punIshing winter months.

As the latest meeting concludes, I remember the first time I went for pride myself. It was last year, in June, the Bangalore pride. 6 of us had made the weekend trip from NALSAR to Bangalore, the more enthusiastic like me having vibgyor-ed a shirt with the catchline "Closets are for Clothes".

Exhausted, exhilarated, I recount my weekend at the Pride March to friends back in college. I narrate the incident of a television camera zooming close by as we steadily made our way towards the Bangalore town hall. As it honed in, and i noticed the NDTV 24X7 logo, I clasped on a mask in alarm, compelled by the thought of my parents' horrified faces seeing their pride (ha) and glory marching down the road with hundreds of fellow LGBT's (not to forget them "Straight but not narrow" folks). 

A troubled look came across a friend's face as he questioned,  "Well, doesn't that defeat the purpose of pride ?" 

I thought about what he said, even as I remembered  the numerous other people in masks that day, in various degress of being out-ed. I have, for the past  2 years, considered myself completely out save for that final frontier - family. That, I conveniently relegate to the sidelines, consoling self with the "it's not practical just yet" argument. 

So what is the purpose of pride then ? I mulled it over tea, and I thought about it during an evening stroll. Sure, it's clear enough, it's about celebrating your identity, acknowledging comfort with your sexuality, and letting the world know : we're here, we're queer, and we're not going away. 

But for a minute, I also thought, beyond what it was  about, beyond what it meant. I flashed right back to the moment, when our car drove up to the starting spot next to National College. I thought about the rush of excitement as we hopped out, to a riotous blaze of colour. Chuckling at slogans, having my own prominent "Closets are for Clothes" photgraphed more than once. So many faces, so many people, some familiar, most not, yet all positively radiating with that common shared energy.

And then as the rainbow flags were unfurled and the drums began to beat and everyone crowded around to hold the flags up, hold them high for everyone to see ... I forgot the agenda, i forgot about who i knew and who i didn't and what this meant.

We were here, we were together in this, we were a community.

We were proud.

And so, I told my friend. Could he understand why this much really is enough ? For now, at least ? Sure I wish I could ignore my wonderfully convenient "practicality" argument and tell my folks anyway. Sure I wish that I'd have the courage to be able to live with them having shared that part of my identity, and be prepared for the consequences.

But till that moment comes, I have this. I have the strength of a community, the shared experience of hundreds who were present that day, and of millions across the world, our common tribulations, our shared euphoria. All coming together on that one cherished day. 

That, i think, is what Pride is all about.

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