July 02, 2009



“We shall disallow travel and the mingling of songs”—this line from Jeet Thayil’s poem ‘Rules for Citizens’ makes me think about the Gay Pride Parade. Because travel is of so many kinds, much of it disallowed. At this year’s Bangalore Pride on Sunday, there was much mingling of songs as well.

Travel. There was a boy I’ve met a few times. He always struck me as attractive but on Sunday, he was wearing shimmery pants, an open jacket, long hair. His eyes were lined. His skin was cinnamon. He looked beautiful. Sexy and scared and triumphant all at once. What is the distance, I wonder, between that person and the person he is forced to be most of the time? For him, how far was the journey from home to Town Hall, really?

Mingling of songs. At the centre of the march, there were flags, drums, raucous songs. All kinds of identity bits spiralled around it: hijra, kothi, double decker, bisexual, lesbian, queer, straight. The frail, the firm, the defiant, the inured to injury.


Gay pride is really about the freedom to be — and love — who one chooses. Sexuality (and love), like gender, is a continuum. Where we fall on this continuum like feathers on a clothesline, nobody can know. How strange and sad it is that there are those who insist on legislating, moralizing, straitjacketing and politicking around it.


Even stranger that some do not believe that this is an important freedom. In a world where the pursuit of money is slavish, where we’ve beaten the environment to death with our appetites for material things, what can be more important than privileging, for once, other things like identity and love? It’s what (barely) saves us.



And it was fantastic to see evidence of this on the streets. The parade was noisy, large, full-of-itself, serious and fun all at the same time. Just as it should be. How wonderful it would be, how colourful and joyous, if such freedom existed every day. The city could span its different stories, instead of relegating them to niches and corners, muffled and trussed. It could become all of them.



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