If you were wondering why you can now see or react to posts and comments on Facebook with a Rainbow react, the answer is Pride month. June is recognised as Pride month by the US to commemorate the Stonewall Riots of June, 1969, with many other countries following suit. Pride Month stands in solidarity with and celebrates the LGTBQ community – not only their historic achievements such as passing legislation that recognizes them legally, but also their identities and freedom, along with remembering the lives lost in anti-LGBTQ discrimination and violence and the daily hurdles faced by the community.
India has for long celebrated LGBTQ culture, with its first Queer Pride march in Kolkata around 2003 and Asia’s first Genderqueer pride parade in Madurai in 2012. The Indian LGBTQ community celebrated Pride month this year too, undeterred by Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, which criminalizes homosexual acts or relations.
2017 was a year of many firsts for India’s LGBT community. Lucknow celebrated its first Pride Parade this year on 9th April, with hundreds of people showing up to question hetero-normative standards and celebrate their identities . Mumbai became the first city in India to host the country’s biggest Pride Parade in January, with over 10,000 people participating in the event . Also in January, Faraz Arif Ansari released the trailer for India’s first LGBT silent film ‘Sisak’ , which portrays the quiet yet intimate interaction between two gay men on a Mumbai local train in context of the stigmatization of homosexual relations. Recently Delhi opened its doors to its first LGBT cafe, called Chez Jerome – Q,located near Qutab Minar and started by Chef Jerome who wanted to create a safe space for LGBTQ identifying individuals and an environment for all open-minded folks to converse.
Centre for Social Research is the India affiliate of the international ‘It Gets Better’ project, as ‘It Gets Better India’ which aims to generate awareness about LGBTQ issues in India. If you want to show solidarity with the LGBT community and be an ally, not just during Pride month but beyond, here are some of the things you could do:
- Attend a Pride Parade
- Spark discussions in your social circles about LGBTQ issues to talk more about intersectionality
- Sign petitions and write letters to the administration that advocate for a change in rulings like Section 377 on platforms such as Change.org.
- To show support on social media, you can use Facebook Pride filters, be more vocal through engagement in articles and posts around issues that affect the LGBTQ community
- Be on the lookout for events or workshops that raise awareness about queer issues and legitimise their efforts. For example, Feminism in India organized a ‘Wikipedia Editathon on ‘Queer Pride Marches in India’ in June this year to put up reliable data on the history of Indian pride marches
While India has a long way to go in terms of giving freedom to the LGBTQ community and undoing the stigmatization of transgenders due to the regressive gender-based attitudes prevalent in the country, it is essential to recognise the ongoing progressive efforts and support them through resources, advocacy, and legislation.