India: Amritsar’s first gay pride leaves city nonplussed, LGBTQ activists thrilled

AMRITSAR: The holy city of Amritsar watched nonplussed as a group of nearly 75 lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) activists took to streets on Sunday, with painted faces and fluttering rainbow flags. The pride parade, believed to be Punjab’s first outside of Chandigarh, left the public bemused. But for the organizers of the event this has been a great step forward in breaking the cycle of isolation and criticism that the LGBTQ community often faces.

Gurleen Arora, an LGBTQ activist, said: “A beginning has been made. I can see an evolution in Amritsar. Nobody can infringe on others’ fundamental rights. Our efforts would give a sense of security to LGBTQs and bring an end to their isolation and criticism both within family and society.”

But, considering the reaction of the public to their presence, the LGBTQ community in Amritsar has a long way to go to end the prejudices suffered by gays, lesbians and transgenders.

Initially, when the activists — fashionably dressed young boys and girls in the age group of 17 to 25 — started converging at Rose Garden on Sunday evening, people present there mistook them for some event marketing team. They were clueless about rainbow flags and pride parades.

It was only when a curious few googled the significance of rainbow flags that things fell into place and quickly the word spread among the crowd that the young girls and boys have come in support of ‘homosexuality’. Lazy Sunday mood vanished soon after and the crowd started to thin, some quietly slipped away and some made it a point to express their displeasure before leaving.

Even the young seemed uncomfortable with the idea. According to Gautam, a young gym trainer, illicit relations and extra marital affairs are a common phenomena in the society and so is the existence of gays and lesbians. “But there is no need to take to roads professing they are homosexuals or bisexuals,” said Gautam, clearly unsettled by the event. “I don’t really think LGBTQ community face any issue as such, they are doing it for fun and to create a hype in the media,” he added.

Not that the LGBTQ activists were paying heed to the disgruntled crowd. Although they did politely answer those who approached them with questions, mostly they were brimming with ‘pride’ to be able to stand up for their fundamental right. Read more via Times of India