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On June 11, Pune’s JM Road will be filled with a motley crew of free-minded folkssome straight, some gay—all showing their support for the LGBTQ community. Yes, it’s that time of the year again when Pune will be hosting its seventh queer pride march. Since the queer community deserves just as much familial support as the straight one, the theme is ‘acceptance by families of LGBTQ persons’. Let’s take a look at what this march is all about.

But first, let’s begin with a little history

Pune saw its first LGBTQ pride march on December 11, 2011. Only about a 100 people showed up: half of them belonged to the LGBT community, and the rest were simply supporters. Unlike the flamboyant parades seen in metros, there were no costumes, no makeup, and certainly no masks or body paint. The attendees wore simple outfits, with many of them in traditional Maharashtrian garb. The event made its mark owing to this very simplicity. By not dressing any differently, the gay community highlighted how similar they are to the straight crowd. This also ensured that the event went smoothly – which resulted in every subsequent year thereafter having an annual pride march.

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What is the purpose of this march?

IT professional and a member of the community,  Souvik Ghosh is in charge of coordinating this year’s march. He says, “The primary purpose is the same as every year and as most other LGBT pride walks, that is, to create awareness in the society about the LGBT community and their issues, to advocate a fairer, more inclusive society and promote acceptance, and also to demand the abolishment of Sec 377 of the IPC which criminalises consensual homosexual acts and is a direct violation of Article 14 of the Indian Constitution which grants every citizen a right to equality. Pune Pride upholds a relevant theme every year. This year, the theme is–Acceptance by families of LGBTQ persons.”

Besides the theme, what else is different this year?

Straight folks will be leading the march this year! (last year Souvik Ghosh led the march which was in keeping with tradition–a grand marshal typically leads the march planned by Samapathik trust). This, of course, is not a random decision. It goes with the theme of this year, as queer people generally come out to and seek the support of their family or friends, seeking their love and acceptance the most. Souvik hopes that “it will give an impetus to our movement as we can show society that families, friends and allies are now coming out in our support.”

Who can attend the march? Are there any rules?

Souvik specifically states that “Anybody can attend irrespective of identity, as long as you are supporting the cause. The only rules/advisories published to participants are in accordance with the terms on which police permission will be granted. These include–no public indecency or obscenity and no offensive behaviour–all of which are punishable by law. As organisers we are responsible for any untoward incidents during the event and we ensure peace and safety.” Click here to know what is and isn’t acceptable behaviour.

If somebody is unable to attend the march, is there any other way to show their support?

If you cannot attend the march but still want to support the cause, you can always make a donation.  However, being present will be far more beneficial, so why not do both?

Here’s hoping that the march helps straight folks realise how important it is for them to accept and support the gay community. Now the question is: will you join in or will you simply look on?

Image Credit: Click Here

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