After two years of COVID-19 pandemic break, Kolkata Rainbow Pride Walk, the oldest LGBTQ annual pride walk in India as well as in South Asia, returned on Sunday afternoon to the streets of Kolkata with added colours of gaiety as well as the aim of addressing wider issues.
According to reputed fashion designer and one of the principal organizers of the walk, Navonil Das, this year they are celebrating the 4th anniversary of the Supreme Court partially striking down Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code decriminalizing a same-sex relationship between consenting adults.
“Again, this year the walk is so special as it is being conducted after two years of pandemic break. So, this year our message is freedom from any authoritative principle that goes against personal liberty, choice and freedom,” Das said.
For Rituparna Antia, an NRI based out of Canada for long and a proud mother of a transwoman, this was her first participation in the walk and the experience was overwhelming for her.
“When my son opened up about his sexual orientation, I felt so lucky that I was in Canada considering that the legal barriers against same sex relationship continued to exist at that point of time. Gradually, my son got transformed into a transwoman and I saw how the Canadian society accepted her the way she is. Now after attending the pride walk here, I can feel that Indian society is gradually opening up against the social taboo. And having done my schooling and graduation from Kolkata, I feel so proud that this City of Joy has been the pioneer on this count,” she said.
The striking feature of this year’s walk was that the parents of several Queer children preferred to walk a mile along with their kids as if to send a message to the society not to equate queer individuals with anti-social elements.
Celebrity chef Shaun Kenworthy and his wife Pinky Kenworthy, a celebrity ramp model of yesteryears, added enthusiasm to the participants by walking with them as an expression of solidarity to the cause they had been struggling for all along.
Tracy Shivangee Sardar, a popular face of the LGBTQ right movement in the city said that for the last two years, because of the pandemic break, she had missed the event a lot.
“So naturally, the enthusiasm was more this year. It is a great moment for us again, since this is the day when we celebrate our rights with so much colour,” she said.
Jayita Sarkar, a teacher by profession, said that this is the day when she can meet her students with alternative sexual orientations out of the serious ambit of the classroom and express her solidarity towards them courtesy this event. “This is the day when my students find their ma’m in a different mood,” she said.