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.
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.
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!
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?