Marching On

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Gay March

Marchers in Delhi's Gay Pride March

It is that time of the year when pride marches rule the streets. Amidst all this euphoria and celebration, it is not uncommon to hear someone say- Straight people don’t have such marches, why do we require one? At this point, I must admit that the question had previously bugged me too, and with time, I have come to realize the importance that such a march holds, especially in a country where the society is still largely against it and people are too afraid of the consequences they might have to face if they reveal their orientation.

While in European countries the march is much about celebration and fun with various activities along with a demand for equal rights in all spheres of life, it takes an altogether different turn in a country like India. It is more about the assertion of the fact that we exist. Remember AMU Vice- Chancellor’s comment recently that there were no homosexuals in the university? It is such refusal to accept the existence that is thwarted when a city hosts a pride march. Not only that, there is group dynamics at play here too. Anyone with a little knowledge of group behavior would be able to tell you that an individual behaves quite differently when in a group, and this altered characteristic can give him strength to do things he would never find courage to do. Try and recall how while in school, you wouldn’t shy away from singing your morning prayer at the top of your voice along with others, but when asked to sing alone, it would often give goose bumps to you. Similarly, there are many people who join the march wearing masks, and by the time it ends, they throw these away because in individual capacity they could never overcome their fear, but with the group dynamics at play, the scene for them changed totally. Then there are those who might not have turned up, but such a parade gives hope to them that there can be a life beyond fear and concealment.

Yes, straight people do not hold such marches because they don’t have to prove their existence or overcome any fear of getting “revealed”. The question would be pertinent when an individual is treated with equal respect and doesn’t have to “fear” being himself/herself, or get ridiculed for who he/she is. Until that happens, pride marches will hold their significance that we can’t refute.