It is that time of the year when the world gets ready with rainbow flags and goes all out with elaborate costumes, makeup, and, of course, glitter in order to commemorate Pride Month. Pride Month is an entire month dedicated to the uplifting of LGBTQ+ voices, celebrating their culture and supporting their rights.
The rainbow aptly signifies the colourful activities and flavour of this month-long celebration. These include massive rallies, pride parades, parties, workshops, concerts, and many more LGBTQ+ events to attract participants from all over the world.
How Pride Month came about
The month is dedicated to those who were involved in the Stonewall Riots, series of gay liberation protests in 1969. The Stonewall Inn which is a popular gay bar in NYC was raided by police in the early morning hours of June 28, 1969. This was not unusual for the time, but on this particular evening, the patrons of the bar fought back, starting the Stonewall Riots that went on for days and ignited a long struggle to bring lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people into the American mainstream guaranteeing their rights. After a long history of protests and proud resilience, it was only in 1999 that former US president Bill Clinton officially proclaimed June as “Gay and Lesbian Pride Month''. It was later in 2011 that president Barack Obama underlined and emphasised the inclusive nature of the Pride movement by re-titling it as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month and also declared Stonewall Inn a historic one in 2016.
Pride Month in India
The onset of the Pride movement in India is associated with the discourse around Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, an antiquated impact of the British era that criminalised homosexuality. The impact continued in spite of Independence and the implementation of Article 24 which promises equality to all. The first protest for gay rights in India took place on August 11, 1992, outside police headquarters in Delhi’s ITO area. The protests were led by AIDS Bhedbhav Virodhi Andolan (ABVA), in opposition to the police who had arrested men from Central Park in Connaught Place on the suspicion of homosexuality. Thereafter in 1994, ABVA filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) challenging the constitutional validity of Section 377 of IPC in the Delhi High Court and this is considered to be one of the first legal protests against the government repression of the LGBTQIA+ community in India.
In 2014, transgenders were officially recognised as a “third gender,” and in 2017, the Supreme Court recognized sexual orientation and was protected under the fundamental right to privacy. After this, a revolutionary ruling struck down a colonial-era law and decriminalised homosexuality in 2018. In 2022, the top court ruled that unmarried or same-sex couples were entitled to welfare benefits. Furthermore, in 2023 the Supreme Court is actively hearing petitions that seek to legally validate same-sex marriages.
Pride Parades around India
On July 2, 1999, India held its first Pride Parade in Kolkata— “The Kolkata Rainbow Pride Walk” which was also the first-ever Pride march in South Asia. Post this event, Pride marches have been conducted in over 21 cities in India. In 2008, Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru saw their first parades. The following year Bhubaneswar and Chennai held their first marches. Kerala held the first such event in 2010 followed by Pune in 2011. The first Pride Walk in the northeast was held in Guwahati in 2014. As late as 2017, Awadh, Bhopal and Dehradun organised their first Pride marches, with Jamshedpur following the trend with its own event in 2018.
The Pride Flag
The rainbow-coloured flag was created by artist Gilbert Baker and the design was introduced during the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Parade celebration on June 25th, 1978. Its design was chosen specifically by Baker as a symbol of hope that has been used throughout history for the LGBTQ pride with each colour on the flag having its own meaning. In the six-colour flag, red is symbolic of life, orange is for healing, yellow is sunshine, green represents nature, blue indicates harmony and purple stands for spirit.
2023 Pride Month Theme
The celebration of Pride month is based on a different theme every year that helps people to engage in discussions and raise awareness about key issues that people of the community continue to face. The 2023 theme is Rage and Resilience, reflecting the current global climate with the resurgence of anti-LGBT bills and laws.
Pride events to look out for around India
This year Pride month is getting more colourful with some wonderful events spread across different cities. So watch out and save the dates!
1. KASHISH Mumbai International Queer Film Festival
This is the first LQBTQ+ film festival in India to be held in a mainstream theatre and the first queer festival in India to receive clearance from the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. 2023 marks its 14th edition and will be held as an in-person festival from June 7 to June 11 followed by an online festival whose dates are to be announced. The theme of KASHISH 2023 is 'BE FLUID, BE YOU!', giving wings to the aspirations of the contemporary generation that is fluid in their thoughts, actions and sexualities; which is expressed through films, art and poetry that is universal in its appeal.
2. The LGBT Pride Summit in Mumbai
This summit is scheduled to take place on June 21 in Mumbai’s ITC Maratha from 9am - 6pm and is focusing on the top professionals across the industry to discuss why diversity is important, discussing diversity as a top priority for an organisation's development.
3. Queer Made Weekend: A Pride-worthy celebration in Delhi
Tinder India and Gaysi Family’s curated Queer Made Weekend happening from the June 17-18 at DLF Promenade in Delhi. One is invited to mingle with, peruse and shop from queer entrepreneurs and small business owners at a dedicated space for all things queer-made!
4. Chennai Rainbow Pride
Chennai marks the 15th year of Pride in the city in June-July. Events this season celebrate the visibility of alternate sexualities and gender identities and affirm the notion of self-respect as a key goal of the movement. This year's Pride march will take place on June 25, subject to police permission. The venue is yet to be finalised. It was in 2009, that local groups and collectives working in the areas of sexuality, gender identity, human rights and health/HIV came together under the banner of Chennai Rainbow Coalition, and organised a series of events in the city culminating in the first march on the last Sunday of the month.
5. Legends And Divas - Pride Edition in Mumbai
Be part of the only musical in India to be staged in support of the LGBTQ+ community! The hosts will take us down memory lane, creating a one-of-a-kind experience while giving an insight into the times of Legends and Divas such as Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, Madonna, Whitney Houston, Andrea Bocelli, Adele along with scintillating drag acts and much more. The roles of the Divas and Legends will be played by the best musical talent in the country. Spanning a period of more than five decades, this theatrical presentation is supposed to leave its audience mesmerised with dazzling performances, state-of-the-art lighting and sound effects, LED backdrops and stunning costumes that are sure to keep you wanting more at the end of this performance!
6. Pridesio Bazaar in Pune
Get ready to show your pride at the Pride Bazaar LGBTQ+ all-day fest! From flea markets to opening on June 3, from 11 am onwards at the F. C. Road Social in Pune for a day of shopping, music, and celebration with incredible performances by some of the most talented queer artists around.
7. Satrangi Mela (Pride Edition), Indiranagar SOCIAL, in Bengaluru
India's first all-day queer festival by a hospitality chain, Satrangi Mela, is all set to launch its third Bengaluru edition this Pride month on June 18 at 12pm in the Indiranagar Social, Bengaluru. Dedicated to promoting queer talent and queer-owned businesses, Satrangi Mela is nothing less than a celebration of queer folks, for queer folks and by queer folks. Their inclusion-oriented approach shifts the spotlight from a tokenistic rainbow flag to the more pressing and under-represented aspects of the queer experience, evidenced by their drag showcase in Pune and an LGBTQ-exclusive floor in Bengaluru. Given the raging success of the second edition in the city and on popular demand, the Mela is coming back to celebrate Pride this time with a bigger line-up and more events planned throughout the month.