I have already decided the clothes I am going to wear at the Guwahati pride- blue jeans and black tee. What? I still am going to hold a strong poster! Being me, I am nervous about walking the pride in another city. I always am. I wait for my friend who is an ally who wants to walk the pride, she is busy with her household chores and clearly not nervous or excited as I am.

She comes to my room, we talk about Stonewall and the history of pride and about the movie “Pride”. She asks me a few questions about bisexuality and I tell her my story. She gets dressed and the next time she enters my room, she brings a magenta Kurta and tells me: “You should wear this! This is your colour!” We take a cab, we are already late.

The car moves through the traffic and we come to a lane where it’s particularly packed and we can hear, “Pyaar Hua ekraar Hua hai” playing out loud. We get out and I know I am here. Joy overcomes the butterflies in my stomach, I hold her hand and cross the road with a spring in my step. The rainbow flags welcome us and I know I am almost home. Still almost because it’s me.

Like always I walk at the end of the pride, I meet a few faces I recognise, they jump on me screaming, “Happy pride!” My friend finds an acquaintance and we part. Now I am in a powerful collective field like in a school of fish. I am amidst people moving their hips and in their full flamboyant self, I am in a magenta Kurta too right!

I see a photographer with a transgender flag on his shoulders taking photos like his life depended on it , couples dancing in pairs while walking- different ways to celebrate. I find a woman in a purple Saree and we smile in recognition. There are people clicking their pride selfies with their partners, friends. I hear my name yelled out and before I know, I am in a selfie with a group of people I hardly know but who are going to change my view on love and friendship as I believed it.

Picture by: Sneha Rooh

I withdraw, take out my phone and immediately the place is less threatening and super interesting. I spot a child on her father’s shoulder, a handsome man with a bowtie made of the transgender flag, I find smiling policemen and a photographer in a rainbow Saree. I gesture with my eye towards the camera and in a moment we are both directly shooting each other. She comes over gives me a peck on the cheek and I smile.

Pride walks have always meant to be political, to make a statement, to open minds and to open hearts. I spot a poster that reads “Love is political”. I remember the pride marches in Hyderabad and Delhi where I saw posters against AFSPA, for gorkha land. All oppressions are related. I realise that I am very different looking person here and the slogan “it’s okay” hits my ear. It’s a sign! Different looking faces have historically been causes of separation even within the queer community and I have heard stories of that, projects like love intersections and the ChinkiHomo project rightly address them. There are a group of people walking with the poster that reads “Queer tribals exist”. How many times have I heard “She is from the plains” and “I am a tribal” after I have come here. Windows to different rooms in a same huge mansion.

Picture by: Sneha Rooh

I see a friend gawk at a woman in long skirt with flower on her hair, they look at me after two full minutes and we both burst out laughing. I ask her to go talk and they shake their head. I walk up to the beautiful woman and ask her if I can click her picture, I answer her question of what I am doing in Guwahati, come to know that she is from a reputed institution there and I call her over to meet my friends. We talk a little, click a picture, exchange now and part. My friend tells me a quiet ‘Thank you’. There are more of such sweet meetings and I am the one being introduced in some of them. I click a photograph of a good friend with her special someone. It’s a happy pride!

Picture by: Sneha Rooh

Within an hour or two I am transformed from an outsider to part of a group, have made many pleasant acquaintances, developed a liking for a person, been asked out, helped a friend meet someone. The pride is complete with an intimate post pride party with smoky smelling wine from Sikkim. I find myself reading my poetry, listening to other’s, being asked for a dance. I learn about how I can love people and I hear about stories of fluid identities and love and pride that holds it together.

If I can see all this through my ‘other’s eye’, imagine how much more there actually is?

Dr. Sneha Rooh

Dr Sneha is a proud bisexual palliative physician and founder of Orikalankini, an organisation that is changing narratives around Menstruation and sexuality in India through art theatre and dialogue. She is currently documenting queer experiences of health care through her death cafes while travelling.

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