A letter to all ‘well meaning’ people who think we don’t need Pride Marches or to talk about homosexuality at all!

​”I am all for LGBT rights but why do you people have to be so loud and flamboyant?”

“I think 377 should be removed but Pride marches should be banned.”

“I understand it’s not a choice but really who cares what you do in bedrooms. Why shout about it on the streets?”

“377 is not even enforced. Just don’t talk about gay sex, no one is checking your bedrooms.”

“People like you are the reason why no one supports LGBT rights. You make everyone uncomfortable with your parades and vulgar talks about sex.”

You know what? Just fuck off. If you think by just saying ‘i don’t mind gay people’ you are being supportive, you are not. You are just saying you are indifferent and it doesn’t matter. Which is fine, which is great, which is quite preferable. But don’t pretend that you care.

Indifference is not the same as actually caring. And when the biggest issue about standing for our cause to you is the ‘inconvenience’ of having to hear us talk about sexuality,watch us openly asking for our rights, see us celebrating our existence and being counted as a part of the society, then fuck you and your ‘pity’.

You don’t get to demand and dictate how we ask for our rights, as if you would have cared or advocated for us if we chose to sit quietly. We are not fighting to convince you anything, we are not asking for your ‘pity’ or ‘sympathy’. We are fighting to be left alone, to have the shackles of regressive laws removed from the private parts of our lives, to reclaim our own space in our society and country.

You don’t have to look at us if you don’t want to, you don’t have to hear us if you don’t want to. You can go on pretending we don’t exist as you have for ages. But don’t dare to ask us to quiet down our voice or tone down our visibility because it makes you ‘uncomfortable’ or ‘inconvenient’.

You know what is uncomfortable and inconvenient? To have to explain and justify your personal lives, your intimate relationships, your sexual choices or lack thereof to each and everyone. To have to lie and hide integral parts of your identity, your personality from your closest friends and family because you could be humiliated, mocked, isolated, locked up, beaten up or even killed. To feel that you owe an explanation to everyone as to why you are the way you are

So if you think your discomfort and inconvenience you feel from us coming out and talking about ourselves and celebrating our existence is excuse enough for us to shut up.

Just fuck off.

Pride: Pune, The second Chapter

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.
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Pride: The Mumbai Chapter [31/01/2015]

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So just been to my 2nd pride march! Queer Azaadi Movement! I m trying to stick to my promise of attending as much of such events that I can….he…he…he. However until the last minute I wasnt even sure I would go or not. On saturday I woke up at 7:30 had my bath, packed my essentials and set off towards Mumbai. Had to change 2 buses to get to the Main bus terminus…then got off at Sion, took another bus to Mumbai Central and walked from there to August Kranti Maidan. By the time I reached it was already 2:30 and people had already started gathering. I could see the variety of people that had showed up in all kinds of costumes and dresses. And sheer number of people were astounding! There were already thousands and more and more were pouring in.
Now I was stuck with a weird dilemma. This was my first visit to Mumbai and I was all alone, I started frantically to look for any familiar face  so as not to feel too awkward and my luck favored when I spotted Anuvab….we met only on Facebook but I recognised him easily enough. It didnt feel at all like we were meeting the first time and we gelled really well and clicked pics. In fact all the pics I have were clicked by him as my already useless phone had also ran out of battery and I hadnt had the chance of charging it.

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By now some people had gathered on the stage and I had not even recognised Harish Iyyer, one of the leading members of the community who had also appeared with Amir Khan on his show ‘Satyamev Jayate’.
He gave his opening speech, and really impressed and enthralled everyone with his witty and humorous take on the concerned issues and Sec 377. He also did not forget to thank all the organisers, the media, the police and all straight allies as well. After which many other prominent members and supporters of the community also took the chance to send a message or shout slogans. Amongst them were Sushant Digvikar of Bigg Boss fame, his father, a proud mother of a lesbian girl and a proud girl of two lesbian mothers. Harish even asked for participants to come up on stage whence I took my chance to get up on stage and tell them how I felt….that though I had come alone for the first time to this city it felt like I had come home. By then all my initial awkwardness had vanished and I now felt one with the crowd. Oh…and I also got my face painted there, a blazing Sun on my left cheek and an anti-377 sign on my right. We were given pride flags and badges and as the march started it felt soo fabulous (yes i can use that word, i am gay). There was a huuuge pride flag that about 10-15 people were holding and waving through the entire march. At one point many people even marched right under it. And there were so many uniquely and beautifully dressed people, the versatility of the crowd really blew my mind. I also took my chance to eye all the eye candies I had no chance with :D. We marched for about 1 hours through streets, the names of which I dont remember.
And through the entire march everyone enjoyed….some were busy photographing, some were making sure that the march didnt congest traffic, some were making sure to clean any litter left by marchers and some were dancing to the beats of the drums.
In that one hour nothing else mattered, everyone was just being themselves, something that they are denied most of the time in society. It was not just a cry for help, it was a show of strength. The honorable Supreme Court of India has denied our rights, dismissing us a ‘minuscle’ portion of public. Well now the entire country could see just how ‘minuscle’ we are. We are out, we are proud and we are here to stay.

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What Pride means to me…….[Pune Pride march 11/9/2014]

‘What does pride mean to you?’. That’s a question I have heard many people ask. I finally have an answer for it; to me Pride means to accept the things I dont need to change and be proud of how far I have come from being ashamed of myself to taking to the streets and shouting at the top of my voice that I am gay and that’s ok. To me Pride means freedom, self respect and hope that no other kid has ever have to feel ashamed of who they are.

I had languished for years in the closet so deep i had managed to fool even myself but 3 years ago i started breaking down the closet door one piece at a time. With each stroke i gained back my self respect and confidence. And today i finally managed to demolish the closet all at one go.

Pune Pride March of 9th November 2014, marks my first participation as an open and out gay person in a public event. And believe me it will not be the last. I will cherish all my memories of the experience; the euphoria, the strength, the power of unity and the burning hope. These feelings are burnt into my heart. And how I wish we could have this events every month. To feel so connected to a crowd of strangers that you feel more close to them than family, i will miss it.

I am glad I came to Pune and luck favored so that I could be a part of it. I regret having missed the first pride march in my home city Guwahati. But I will try my best to be part of all such events that take place in whichever part of the world I am in.

Thank you Sampathik Trust, thank you Pune city and thank you all the wonderful people that came and participated. Thank you all for these wonderful memories and feelings.

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Criminal from India

A brief introduction of a Criminal fro. India…..
I am an engineering student from Assam, India. I grew up in a society 1where homosexuality was unheard of and so was homophobia. As a 8 year old kid I used to dress up in my mothers saree with her help and roam the entire colony during Saraswati Puja and never heard a mean word from anyone. It was just a little child’s innocent play and that is how everyone saw it.
I was an introverted kid with no interest in sports or any physical activities, I very much spent most of my school life buried in books and was hardly ever in any sort of trouble. I stayed to myself and had very few select friends to whom I opened up. I was well mannered, helpful and shy, this made me much liked by teachers and elders, even the burly boys of my class treated me nicely. I knew early in life that I was different from the rest of the boys, but I pretty much spent my entire school life in denial. Even after hitting puberty, when I used to get aroused by the male anatomy I chalked it up to ‘late growth’ or ‘hormonal imbalance’ and earnestly believed I would grow out of it. I never thought of myself as ‘Gay’, and though I am usually less judgmental of different people, I had a homophobic streak as I refused to believe that sexuality couldn’t be changed.
When I entered college I started to imagine my future life as a person dedicated to his work as I didn’t believe I could live a married life. It hurt to think I would never get to raise a son or a daughter. But then I fell head over heels for a guy in college, my first love. And after spending a few agonizing months in his presence, helplessly trying to convince myself that it was just ‘friendship’, I finally broke down and came out of denial. After facing reality I couldn’t bear the burden of a secret, I came out to my best friend from school, he had been a great friend and mentor to me in my school days and had helped me build my confidence and over come my shyness. None of that changed, and he told me that he was proud of me to choose to come out. Encouraged with my first confession, I decided to come out to the friend I crushed on. I told him everything, about my sexuality and my feelings for him. He was shocked, but he didn’t run away, didn’t shout at me, didn’t ask me to change. He supported me and stood by me when a few months later I came out to everyone on Facebook.
“Today on Janmashthami, birthday of the God of Love ‘Krishna’, i fasted and prayed to the Lord to give me the courage and the will to do the right thing. And right now sitting on my computer i think i need to share this with all and any who are concerned or care that i am Gay. I hope i’m doing the right thing, not by being gay but by coming out like this i mean. I do not choose to be gay, i just choose to live a life where i’m free to love….”
These were the exact words that i wrote on Facebook. This was a bold step and I was shit scared. I hadn’t asked anyone or discussed with anyone before doing it. But I was not going to live a secret life. I wanted people to see me as a gay guy and realise that i was normal. The following few weeks were hard as my friends all screamed at me, but they were angry with me for being public about it. I was pleasantly surprised as most of my classmates and college friends came to my support. I was never bullied and never a bad word said to me. Though most did not believe I was actually gay, or thought I would change, no one abandoned me or harassed me. Yes there were people who said things behind my back, but they wouldn’t dare to say it to my face because I would give back as much I got. And my friends always had my back.
I came out to my father after the Indian SC re-criminalized homosexuality, he believes its a perversion and that i can change if i try,but he would not stop loving me if I choose to settle with another man.

Before you step out of ‘The Closet’

It’s been almost a year since I came out as gay on Facebook. A lot has happened since then, many things have changed and many things I have learnt from this experience. There are many things that I would have done differently with respect to my coming out. No…I don’t regret coming out at all. It was a liberating experience that set me free and changed me from an isolated introvert to a confident, self-assured, gay man. But there were many ways in which I could have made this a more positive experience. If you are a gay man planning to come out to your friends or family then here are a few tips that I would like to share with you. These tips are based on what I experienced after coming out.

1. One Step at a time:
DO NOT come out until you are ready to come out. Better late, than hasty. If you have siblings or friends whom you trust, then first come out to them. If you are not ready to hold your ground then coming out at the wrong time could make it very hard for you to deal with the consequences.

2. Be Confident:
When people realize that you are sure about what you are saying, they will take it more seriously and pay attention. If they perceive that you are in doubt, they are more likely to pass it off as a phase or will simply suggest that you are confused. A simple statement like “I’m Gay” is more effective than “I think I’m gay”.

3. DON’T Be Defensive or Apologetic:
You are simply stating a Fact. You don’t have to prove yourself or defend your choice (or the lack of it) to anyone. If someone asks “How do you know?” there’s no need to jump into long emotional speeches. Just say that you know and there’s no middle ground for confusion or doubt. If someone keeps trying to convince you to believe otherwise then tell them that you are far better aware of yourself and your life. Be firm but polite (as much as possible).

4. Don’t Discriminate with yourself:
After coming out, your interaction with many people will change. Don’t start avoiding people or places you usually go to just because others might be uncomfortable. Give them the chance to get used to the idea of associating with a gay man. This will require a lot of courage but it is very important. People will generally learn from you how to treat you. So don’t let them believe that anything has changed.

5. Don’t get Intimidated:
If bullies or haters around you try to scare you or taunt you, look them in the eye and tell them to back off. These people are usually a cowardly lot and won’t pick a fight if they realize that you are prepared to fight back.

6. Be Responsible about your close ones:
Your coming out is not only going to affect you but also people close to you like your friends and roommate. They will be under scrutiny for associating with you. It would be wise to give them a heads up before you decide to come out in public. People are more likely to accost and interrogate them rather than you. So they would need as much your support as you need theirs. Relation with close ones could get strained, not for your sexuality but for the selfish act of coming out.

7. Be Patient when answering Queries:
By coming out in public you are basically giving everyone a license to ask questions about your sexuality and life. Be patient when answering these questions. Most people don’t have experience in associating with LGBT people. Your response could be responsible for how they treat other LGBT person. However there will be airheads who will try to challenge you with their own theories rather than satiate their ignorance. Don’t waste time on these people. Tell them to come back and ask questions once they are ready to step out of their Oyster shells.

8. Not everything will be Hunky-Dory:
At the end of it all, not everyone is going to be pleased or convinced. Some relationships will change. You will need to accept that and resist the temptation to try and convince everyone. If you are really important to them then they will find a way to wrap their heads around the truth.

Some or maybe all of these tips could be inapplicable to you. Or maybe you have some better way of coming out. Only you can be the judge of when and how to come out. Have faith in yourself. Because you are brave and wonderful. The toughest battles are given to the strongest warriors.