Youths participate in the pride rally in Guwahati on Sunday. Picture by UB Photos
Guwahati, Feb. 9: A week after the office of an NGO was ransacked for allegedly helping the LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning) community in organising a parade here, 60 people, belonging to the community and straights, took part in Guwahati’s first pride parade today sending out a simple message: “We aren’t afraid”.
Some wore masks, colourful dresses and wigs. They shouted slogans like “Repeal 377”, “377 Bharat choro”, “We want dignity” and sang We Shall Overcome. The parade began near Dighalipukhuri and culminated at Ambari Rotary after taking a over 2km-long route through RBI Point, old SP Office, and Lamb Road.
And the world’s singers sang with them today. Bhupen Hazarika’s Manuhe manuhor babe and Mor morome morom bisari jai, Beatles’ I want to hold your hand and K’naan’s Wavin’ Flag were some of the songs coming out of loudspeakers. They danced, decried Section 377 of the IPC and distributed flags and roses to onlookers.
The city today did the right thing, embracing its many communities and diversity. The district administration kept its word: the parade right through was protected by the city’s police as participants went about distributing rainbow flags.
BJP national vice-president Bijoya Chakravarty, whose vehicle got stuck for sometime because of the parade, told reporters that she respects others’ rights. “Being hurt by the verdict of the Supreme Court they have naturally come forward to protest. It is a different matter if I agree with them or not, but I respect individual beliefs,” she said.
“We are protesting against Section 377 of IPC. After the Supreme Court verdict more people become aware of Section 377. We do not know how far the backlash against the community would continue. We are very concerned about it,” said Santa Khurai from Manipur, secretary of the All Manipur Nupi Manbi Association.
The protesters were vocal about their rights. “I am not an alien and why should I feel shy? God made me queer, who am I to deny? My sexuality should not influence your love for me. Don’t you think that after all I am a human being?” asked Ankita Gupta from Guwahati.
Straights joined the parade, respecting rights and individuality. “It is a part of human rights. We should recognise the rights of the community. That is why I have joined the parade despite not belonging to the community,” said Chandana Kakoty from Guwahati who joined the protest.
The organisers were happy after the parade.
“We, in fact, did not expect so many participants. I would say it is a very successful parade. Initially there were protests from some quarters. But we have taken the event in a positive light. After it we will try to organise more programmes to make people aware about the issue,” said Minakshi Buzarbaruah, one of the organisers.
“It is a very memorable moment for me. I had left Guwahati because I thought that there was nobody like me. It is so nice and touching for me to see all these people accepting us for who we are. And I feel that I can come back to Assam again and do things that I always liked to do. We will continue going. We will educate people and show the movie Unclaimed. We need to educate and explain to people that this is all about love. Let people love who they want. We are not doing anybody any harm,” said Mili Dutta, another organiser, who resides in the US.