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Tue, 13 Nov 2018

Northeast Today

Guwahati Comes Out for LGBT Rights

Guwahati Comes Out for LGBT Rights
February 06
15:27 2017

NET Bureau

The fourth edition of Queer Pride, Guwahati took place on Sunday near Dighalipukhuri in the city. Dressed in colours of the rainbow, a large section of the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) community and supporters gathered outside the park located in front of the Gauhati High Court. Participants took out a Pride parade through the academic heart of the city, witnessed by hundreds of bystanders. The ‘walk’ started from the tank and made its way through the historic Cotton College and High Court before culminating back at the start point.

Freedom was the theme of the day, as the streets erupted in a riot of colour, music and dance. More than 300 participants took part in the parade, demanding equal rights for the marginalised and minorities. Other than representatives of the LGBT community, the parade was supported by students of Gauhati University, National Law University, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, media persons and locals. The parade also saw attendance from members of the LGBT community from West Bengal, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and many other places. Colourful banners, masks, the LGBT flag and balloons adorned the parade, accompanied by old Bollywood and Assamese love songs. Slogans of Azadi from Article 377 of the Indian Constitution, AFSPA and the right to love and equality dominated the walk.

Put together by a Xukia, a NGO working for the rights of the LGBT community, Queer Pride, Guwahati gives a one off platform for members of the community to come out in the open and express themselves. Talking to Northeast Today, one of the organisers said that the event was a collective effort of all members of the community to have their voices heard in the city. “We are proud of the attendance and this gives us hope that the voices of the community is being heard and people are supporting us.” A first time volunteer at the Pride said, “It was liberating to watch people expressing themselves without any inhibitions or stigmas. The way they dressed up, danced and interacted made me believe that that we should open our minds to those with sexual identities other than our own.” Most of those present in the crowd appreciated the role played by the police during the event. A gay participant from Tamil Nadu said that his first experience in Guwahati was an eyeopener as everybody was so nice. “I would like to speak specifically about the police as they treated us very good. There was no rush and their behavior was very polite and respectful.”

The Queer Pride, though enthusiastically supported and conducted, saw a smaller turnout as compared to the previous edition. While freedom of the individual, expression and repression of dalits etc were the talking points, the parade also tried to bring out issues like the revoking the AFSPA among others. The lack of awareness among the common people was evident as children thronging the Dighalipukhuri got no answers from their parents regarding what the fun and frolic was all about. The Pride also saw lesser number of people coming out, with very few first timers in attendance. A transgender representative from Kolkata said, “I have been coming to the Guwahati Pride for the last three years. The response this year is good, though I see very few Hijras. They were there the previous year, perhaps they would come out more in the coming years.”

Photo by Partha Prawal

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