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On Sunday, thousands walked from Barakhamba Road to Jantar Mantar as the Capital hosted the ninth edition of Delhi Queer Pride. While the skyline was dull and gloomy, the march boasted rainbows all around — from flags, balloons, posters and placards to socks, saris, shirts and trousers — including a dalmatian and a labrador with rainbow scarves around their necks.
After the group reached Jantar Mantar, the stage was set for poems, songs, dance performances and speeches, apart from the mandate that was read out. One of the performers was 27-year-old Avantika, a visual merchandiser, who did a short dance-drama. “Through my dance, I want to express the life of a transgender in India,” she said.
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The annual LGBTQ event saw a bigger turn out than the previous years. Apart from “halla bol” and “azadi” chants, and posters that read “Queer and Proud”, songs such as Pyaar kiya toh darna kya reverberated in the air, as did the thumping of the dhol.
With a bindi on his forehead and a nathni on his nose, 22-year-old German student Zakariya twirled in the middle of the march and hugged those around him as he wished them a “Happy Pride”. In Delhi since August for a semester, Zakariya seemed surprised at the turn out.
To an outsider like Zakariya, the numbers depict success but for 55-year-old Julian Parr, an English in India since 2000, there is still a long way to ago. “In 1994, the Naz Foundation did a little exercise around spreading awareness about sexuality. My office asked me not to attend, so I dressed like a condom — that way I could cover my face — and distributed condoms to passers-by. Since then, things have changed but only a few thousands are on the street in a populated city like Delhi. That’s not good,” he added.
Issues such as the Dalit queer identity, Section 377 and the Transgender Bill, the Kashmir crisis, and disappearence of Najeeb Ahmed were addressed.
The crisp, new Rs 2,000 note again found itself in conversation as one poster read “Decriminalise (377), not demonitise”.