Lavanya is a 19-year-old feminist who firmly believes in creating spaces where women can freely express themselves without fear of persecution or judgement.
Usually, a person cannot find a lot of things to be happy about on a sunny day in the middle of May. But on 17th May, I couldn’t have been unhappy even if I tried to!
Why you may ask?
See, it is not every day that your desi queer girl gets dropped off at her first pride parade and that too by her own parents!
Last year was not only my first pride parade but also Bhopal’s first pride parade! It was a much-needed sign for me and my fellow LGBT++ people that despite all the stigma and prejudice, our city, and our country is changing, even if slowly and gradually, and if that is not something to be happy about, then I don’t know what is.
So, let me paint you a picture of the day. I got up early to get ready for what was to be the most important day of my life! I had butterflies all over and what made it extra special for me was that my Mum and Dad had promised to drop me to the event. My pride began right at home as my heart swell with pride for my parents!
Not only was it bright and sunny. It was a riot of colours in the middle of Bhopal. People in the most beautiful and creative outfits were all walking towards the venue. The sounds of chattering, laughing and camera shutters clicking hung in the air. But what struck me most was the camaraderie in the air. In a community often discriminated against, even strangers become family, something I learned that day. I also made a new friend that day – let’s call her Aastha.
As things began to get exciting, I energetically took on the very important responsibility of passing around the mini pride flags. And then the march began. Slogans were being shouted excitedly, condemning Section 377, expressing our right to love, and emphasizing over and over again that all love is same.
Aastha and I milled in with the crowd like a pair of excited children at a fair, enjoying the sights and sounds and everything that was happening around us.
That day, amidst the invites to after parties, hugs, and pictures with people who had been strangers just a few hours ago I realized something. I realized just how hungry we are for acceptance, love and belonging.
The most memorable moment for me that day was when walking underneath a giant pride flag, as it waved and undulated, a ray of warm, mellow evening sunlight hit my eyes, and I felt like I was in a happily ever after of a beautiful movie.
I am already looking forward to the pride next year!
*To protect the identity, some names have been changed and the person/s in the picture is/are models.