India’s Silicon Valley walks for Gay Pride

Bengaluru Pride 2011

Bengaluru, the IT hub of India, walked for pride on Nov 27th along with Delhi. The march, which was attended by over 1000 marchers, was preceded by a weeklong celebration which included a cricket match, garage sale to raise funds, panel discussions and film screenings. A day before the final pride march, i.e. on 26th Nov, the Diversity Fair was held in Rococo Gallery. The fair had various stalls selling T-shirts, cards, handicrafts etc. To keep things interesting, there were a number of performances including dance, singing, poem recital and a magic show. Setting the stage on fire with their dance moves was the group Pink Divas which performed to a medley of songs, and was back on stage for the second time on popular demand. Chennai Dost’s dance drama and a belly dance by Alex were other notable performances of the day. The crowd present at the venue was also busy sending roses to their secret crush, another popular event that kept everyone engaged and surprised many who received the beautiful roses. The day ended with a dance performance by a group of children called Free Tigers who raised awareness for conservation of the feline species.

The cloudy Sunday afternoon saw around a thousand people turning up for the pride march at Tulasi Park. It was not only Bangaloreans who had come for the pride, but groups of people from various neighbouring cities including Chennai, Hyderabad and Pune had also arrived in the IT city. Among all the colours and rainbow flags, what couldn’t be missed was internet search giant Google’s gay android T-shirts, badges and stickers. Google’s gay and lesbian employees or Gayglers (as they called themselves) turned up in large numbers and were distributing T-shirts, stickers and tattoos to the marchers. When asked, a gaygler said, “We just want people to know that Google is a very gay friendly company and people are welcome there as they are.” Other companies expressing their support included IBM and Goldman Sachs.

People of all hues walked holding various placards seeking equal rights and acceptance, raising slogans and distributing

Bengaluru Pride March 2011

pamphlets to curious bystanders to raise awareness. Slogans like “Gay Hua toh Kya hua, Pyaar Hua Ikraar hua” was on everyone’s lips. If there were people from the community, there were a lot of straight supporters as well. This year’s march saw lesser people walking with masks, many who started the march with masks on their faces could be seen holding the masks in their hands halfway, choosing to get on their fears for once. Santosh, who participated in the march for the first time shared his experience. “I had thought of walking the march wearing a mask, but when I arrived here and saw so many people walking proudly without any masks, I decided to not hide behind a mask. I instead picked up this umbrella to use it as a shield in front of TV cameras or photo journalists,” he said, pointing to the rainbow coloured umbrella that he was holding. Santosh in many ways conveyed the story of many who had chosen to do away with the mask, and instead just put it up when they encountered any media personnel. Ecstatic after his first pride, he revealed the reason behind his decision, “The energy in the atmosphere just gets on to you.”

The march ended at the iconic Town Hall of Bengaluru in the evening. The high point of this year’s pride march would very much be the open support from big companies like Google, IBM and Goldman Sachs , which clearly indicates the rapidly changing scenario in India. Hopefully, next year more corporates would come forward to show their support for gay rights. Before everybody parted for their destinations, many could already be heard making plans for the Queer Azadi March, Mumbai.