Published: 25th August 2018
Pride at the end of this rainbow: Will you be there at the Bhubaneswar Pride Parade 2018?
Discussions were held on topics like 'Did homosexuality exist in ancient India?' and 'Same-sex references in Islamic Sufi poetry' at Queer Literature Readings
Come September 1, people will be taking to the streets of Bhubaneswar to show their support for the LGBTQIA+ community through the Bhubaneswar Pride Parade. Popular and organised around the world, this particular march in Bhubaneswar is being helmed by transgender activist Meera Parida's NGO Sakha, the Parichay Collective and Saathi. "It's time we walk together once again and remind ourselves and others that everybody deserves respect, irrespective of our caste, creed, religion, gender or sexual orientation," says Parida, who has been given several awards and crowned various titles, including Best Transgender Leader in India by the United Nations Development Programme.
Bhubaneswar Pride Parade also collaborated with the Facebook page Humans of Bhubaneswar to bring out stories of the LGBTQIA+ community
Parida takes us through her already well-known and well-documented backstory of how she ran away to Mumbai and was convinced that there is nothing unnatural about being born as a boy yet feeling like a girl. While she does agree that transgenders as a community have successfully achieved the recognition that they have been fighting for to some extent, she is not blind to the fact that the road is still long for others. "Citizens are aware of this community in Bhubaneswar, but don't talk about it much," says Parida about Bhubaneswar's acceptance of the LGBTQIA+ community.
What is love?: Scenes from the pride march held in Bengaluru
Back to the beginning
It was in 2009 when the first pride march was organised in Bhubaneswar. For about three to four years they continued the trend, but they had to stop because members of the LGBTQIA+ were being labelled as criminals. But that didn't last for too long. The community soon started the march again in full swing and have carried forward the legacy since then. As Biswa Bhusan Pattanayak from Saathi narrates this tale, he tells us how this year, a few NGOs have come together and in a way, "this has become a collective movement where different groups have come together." The 35-year-old is a core member of Saathi in Bhubaneswar, an initiative that is headquartered in Chennai and has a presence in 14 states.
To share the experiences you’ve had with the community or your thoughts on them, you can mail the team on bhubaneswarprideparade@
Before the event
Another interesting aspect about this year's pride march is the several pre-pride events that were organised as a run-up to the march itself. The first event, Storytelling and Poetry, was conducted on August 12 and was a huge success. People spoke about mental health issues and the identity crisis that plagues those who remain tight-lipped about their sexual orientation. One of the participants, Akriti Pal, spoke about how she taught a few transgenders to drive which enabled them to become taxi drivers and earn their income. Then there was the 'Queer Film Screenings' on August 18, during which movies like Pride directed by Matthew Warchus and XXY by Lucía Puenzo were screened. At the 'Queer Literature Readings' on August 19, the books of authors who have identified themselves with or have written about the LGBTQIA+ community were read and discussed. And just yesterday, August 26, 'Discussions and Lectures on LGBTQIA+' was conducted.
All on board: People participating in Bengaluru Pride March
Bijaya Biswal, one of the organisers of the march, tells us how these events go a long way in spreading awareness about the community. And the response? "It has been great and all the participants, whether from the community or those who support it, agreed that the community could do with more and more support," she shares. Abhilash Patra from Parichay Collective, which works for the LGBTQIA+ community, feels that while there is definitely awareness about the community, they do not really understand the full spectrum of LGBTQIA+. "For example, any regular person thinks of transgenders as hijadas or chakas. They don't really know that this community is a part of the larger spectrum of what LGBTQIA+ stands for," feels the 26-year-old. So this march gives people a good opportunity to understand the community. And this is the need of the hour because, "we need to normalise this. That's the aim," he concludes.
It's clear that the LGBTQIA+ community needs all the support they can get. So will you be there with them on September 1?
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