#CelebratingPride : History of Pride Parades in India

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The history of June being celebrated as the Pride month dates back to 28th June, 1969, when police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay club near Manhattan NYC which resulted in more than 500 people taking to the streets to protest the discrimination against the LGBTQ+ people. Exactly one year later , on 28th June,1970, world’s first Pride Parade known as Christopher Street Liberation Day March  took place in New York City. It was named after the street where the famous Stonewall inn was located. The parade began on Washington Place between Sheridan Square and Sixth Avenue and moved up Sixth Avenue, concluding with a “Gay-In” in Central Park. Brenda Howard , a bisexual activist, is prominently credited for organizing it and is known as, “The Mother of Pride.”

What is Pride ?

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LGBTQ+ Identifying People have always been forced to feel ashamed and guilty for loving whomsoever ever they want and have been deprived of the basic dignity that every human deserves. To counter this stigma, the word ‘Pride’ was deliberately chosen to honour the struggle, beauty and dignity of belonging to the queer a community. ‘Pride’ stands to celebrate the LGBTQ+ identity. The Word Pride was first associated with the LGBTQ+ parade in 1970 by Craig Schoonmaker who was a part of the planning committee for the  Christopher Street Liberation Day March.

Though Pride Parades came to existence as early as 1970s but India witnessed its first pride parade in 1999, it has been 21 years since then with almost 21 cities organizing pride parades each year.

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The first Pride Parade was held in Kolkata on 2nd July 1999, called the Kolkata Rainbow Pride Walk, with only 15 attendees none of them woman. The parade continued to take place on and off for a almost a decade when in 2008 Delhi, Bengaluru and Mumbai joined the bandwagon.

Delhi’s queer pride parade is held annually on the last Sunday of November , Bengaluru’s Namma Pride Parade is held mostly in December whereas Mumbai’s ‘Queer Azaadi Mumbai Pride March’ takes place between January-March.

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During 2009-10, the pride parade culture reached Chennai, Kerala and Bhubaneshwar and have been on the trail ever since then.

Pune’s Pride march is the second one from Maharashtra after Mumbai. It has been a regular one since 2011. In July 2012, Tamil Nadu’s Madurai held South Asia’s first ‘Gender Queer Pride Parade.’

In 2013, Surat held Gujarat’s first-ever Pride parade.The same year, Hyderabad and Chandigarh joined in ,held their first Pride marches: the ‘Hyderabad Queer Pride’ and the ‘Chandigarh LGBT Pride Walk.’ And have been regular since then.

Guwahati participated in Global Day of rage to protest the overturning of 2009 verdict on Section 377 and resulted in first pride parade of the North East held in 2014 .It has since been held annually in the first week of February.

Post 2015, Nagpur’s first ‘Orange City LGBT Pride March’, Lucknow’s ‘Awadh Queer Pride’, Pride de Goa, Dehradun Pride Parade, Gurgaon Pride parade, Bhopal Pride march and Queer Gulabi pride Jaipur, joined in too.In 2017, pride parades all over India collectively condemned the proposed Transgender Persons Bill of 2016.

The overwhelming increase in the number of pride marches organized each year is somewhere attributed to the Delhi High Court’s verdict of decriminalising homosexuality in 2009, though the verdict was nullified in 2013 reinstating the repressive law of colonial times.Fortunately,this blow and opposition didn’t dishearten the queer community and made them continue the fight only to see the jubilant year of 2018 when the draconian 377 was finally struck down and the community marched once again with pride  but this time as relatively freer citizens of the country.

Image Source – Voice of America

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