Its almost been a year (10 months to be more precise) since I attended my first Pride march, here in Pune. Last Sunday again I got the chance to be a part of Pune’s 5th pride march. The last time I was there, I was a lonely guy who didn’t know anyone out there and just showed up out of the blue because I wanted to feel the sense of belonging, ironically, from all strangers. And I was right, all the people there were a part of a giant family, which so readily welcomed me and made me feel at ease. The feeling of pride and acceptance from the fellow members of the community and the allies really lit the fire of passion for freedom and self acceptance in me. The shy, nerdy, silent, awkward and introverted boy found it in himself to shout out loud on the streets filled with strangers alongside a newly adopted family. An hour at most, the pride lasted, an hour where I shouted loud enough for all the years I had spent silent. For all the other guys who were still silent. I wanted my voice to reassure me and them….that change is possible …that it is possible to be able to love and respect yourself for who you are and to be loved and respected for who you are. 10 months in Pune have gone so soon…it is hard to believe. I have hardly began exploring the city. And already have a love hate relationship with my job. But the friends I made here. The very first members of my newly adopted queer family in Pune, they have kept me anchored to this city and given me memories so fond that I will cherish them as some of the best moments of my life.
In the last pride I met Manoj, we had a spark instantly, and he has been my guide, mentor and friend in the Queer culture of this city. We spent time together, got close, even worked together. Though I am sure at times I might have been a pain in the ass (No…not the kind you are imagining. Just Stop!). He still put up with me and introduced me to a lot of wonderful people. I would like to take this chance to thank him for being who he is. He really is a darling gem of a human being. And the night before the pride was an absolute riot as was the night of the pride (we won’t be talking about the latter).
Thanks to Manoj’s ‘mehendi ki rasam’ I got overexcited and managed to get my hands mehendid as well. But Sumit really did an excellent job and I have girls in my office requesting me to get him to mehendi their hands. I got to meet a lot of people from the community (whom I have been stalking) this year and really, really enjoyed my time with all. Sumit, Aditya, Mayuresh, Chandramohan, Anup, Partha, Krsna, Sagar, I really had a fun time with all of you guys.
And Aniket, I am really glad that we finally met. You are one of the sweetest, most decent guy I know and you certainly have a lot of guts! Vishal….you too are one of the sweetest guys and so helpful, supportive and encouraging always. I am really lucky to have found you guys. Wish instead of being annual, Pride marches were monthly. It would give us all more excuse to keep gathering and enjoying that familial energy.