The following is a report by Ketan, the moderator of the Gay Bombay egroup:
(Founded in 2001 and with a subscription of over 19,000, Gay Bombay describes itself as the largest LGBT Yahoo group in the world. More images can be viewed on photobucket.com/gaybombay and more info on gaybombay.blogspot.com. The group is also organises social events for men.)
More images can be viewed on photobucket.com/gaybombay.
“How many do you think we are?” asked Anand Grover pointing out to the huge procession at the pride parade yesterday (16 August 09) as they started marching from August Kranti Maidan in Nana Chowk taking the road to Mumbai’s Chowpatty beach. Grover, by the way, is the one who heads Lawyers Collective and is the brain behind the Delhi High Court victory.
“I heard the police say in his wireless 500 people of which he said 100 belong to the tritya jaati ( third sex)”, I told Anand.
“500? No way just look properly... may be 5,000”, said Grover, looking distinctly pleased. And then I looked again properly, and realised that it could not be just 500. The riot of colours, placards and slogans were stretching at least half a kilometre long.
And I had to revise my earlier estimates of 500. In my reckoning may be around two thousand.
And that’s huge. Never mind the muggy sweltering weather… Never mind the swine flu scare, never mind that it was a extended holiday, never mind that Central/Harbour Railway services had virtually shut down and were not moving an inch beyond Wadala and Dadar… both the places pretty far off from the parade venue. Never mind that many from Pune did not come because of the swine flu problem.
The weather was lousy. Yet, the hot and muggy weather did not stop the LGBT and their well wishers in Mumbai (from) taking to (the) street on Aug 16. They turned out in huge numbers. There were celebrities like Celina Jaitely, Alaque Padamsee, Model Carol Gracias, Professor Nandini Sardesai (Rajdeep Sardesai’s mother)... There were many more. It was heartening to see so many non-LGBT persons come out in support of the community. Celina came pretty late, some 45 minutes past 3pm, when the procession was supposed to start at 3pm. But she did make up for it… and gave a nice speech asking gays to march ahead and that she would be there for the LGBT community now and forever. Right to the end till the procession reached Chowpatty, Celina danced, cheered and turned out to be a show stopper .
The LGBT leaders too were out in full force. Ashok Rao Kavi, Prince Manvendra, Vikram Doctor, Dee, Swapan, Dibs -- and all leading lights of Gaybombay, Vivek Anand and Nitin Karani of Humsafar, Anand Grover, Laxmi Tripathi… the list goes on.
So what did I see? Umm, lots of plunging necklines (as you can see in some of the pictures and no I am not a closeted heterosexual or bisexual), wigs and plumes and feathers of all shape, size and colour, colorful masks, hundreds of placards that had very creative slogans which would have made a copywriter proud. Those who participated had adorned themselves in all kinds of clothes… from traditional Indian clothes to use of saplings and tree branches covering the body parts strategically. Fashion designers must have really worked hard for this parade because some of the dresses on display were the ones that you could only see on the ramp… and may be you and me would not have the courage to wear it outside… but people did and boy they carried it off with a panache!
And oh yes, the dance and merry making... the loud beat of the drums and the swirling figures breaking into impromptu dance every few minutes… with gay abandon… it was proof enough to believe that the gay community is indeed happy and gay or may be vice versa. Even one good looking constable (oh well good looking for me at least) who was trying to guide the procession was breaking into a smile every few minutes even though his boss was yelling at him in Marathi and instructing him not to let the procession stop on the way.
“I am not going to allow this procession next year if you guys stop every few minutes and start dancing”, the senior Inspector scowled in Marathi at me and Anand Grover. But, really who cared? It was our day... the first pride parade in India after we were declared “legal”… oh ok, the love making was declared legal if it was kept private and between two consenting adults by the Delhi High Court in July 09.
One look at the crowd and it was as if hundreds of rainbows had come together. The composition of the crowd was a mini India. And yes, class, creed, colour and religion took a back seat. The divide between the so called upper class gays and the so called lower class kothis [loosely translated to mean men who appear 'feminine' and take on the 'feminine' role] melted in a show of solidarity.