A ‘pride’ that roared on the streets of Kolkata yet again

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07/01/2019

On a muggy July afternoon in 1999, 15 people gathered at Park Circus Maidan in the heart of Kolkata dressed in bright yellow T-shirts that said Friendship Walk on one side and ‘Walk into People’s Heart’ on the reverse. They walked around the field, and then down Gariahat road distributing pamphlets, before splitting off to talk to activists and officials. By the time darkness descended, they had accomplished India’s first queer pride march. Twenty years later this Saturday, those 15, along with members of Kolkata’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community came together to mark the anniversary of the landmark event with a bright show that stood in stark contrast to the more demure original, a befitting acknowledgement of the colossal strides made in recent years. “It is really a special occasion in more ways than one. No one would have imagined 20 years ago that we would see such a day, when such judgments could come in India,” said Pawan Dhall, founder of Varta Trust, in a reference to two Supreme Court judgments decriminalising homosexuality in 2018 and affirming transgender rights in 2014.

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