That one line summed up the sentiment of the first queer pride march held in the city on Sunday after four years of denial and negotiation by authorities. Unfortunately though, the cops did sort of "shift" the party by sending back the "band baaja" from the venue at Necklace Road. The reason: "We gave them permission to rally, not to sing and play music. Every day, there is a new protest. They have made our lives so difficult," a cop said.
But despite just 300 of the estimated 50,000 people of alternative sexuality in Hyderabad getting together at Necklace Road, the march was still a success. J.P. Morgan employee Andy Silvera tells us why. "Even if only one person had turned up beside me, I would have still been satisfied. It's the feeling that you are not alone that matters. And, that it is not unnatural. It's not your fault for what you are," says Andy, who is researching on queer cinema and has a suggestion. "Bollywood, come out of the closet. We love gay stories."
There was also Vijay Mogli, who underwent "torture" after his parents got hold of some letters he wrote to his boyfriend. "They took me to doctors who termed me psychotic and sent me to an asylum. I was sedated for months." His parents, fortunately for him, gave up after eight months. "I had become a moving frame. There was no life left in me. When they took me out of the asylum, I showed withdrawal symptoms for two months. I lost so much weight. I was like a stick. But when I recovered, I ran away to Mumbai with a job. I just could not take the hostility," says Vijay, who came back to the city to proudly take part in the march. He also has a battle to fight. "There are just three to four good 'queer' psychologists or counsellors in the city. Others should be banned for treating people like us on anti-pyschotic drugs," he said. "Marriage" was also a point of discussion.
Transgender Simran was 13 when she felt "different". "My parents and relatives abandoned me. When they came to know that I got myself a cross-section surgery, they threw me out. I have no claims to property. I have been earning a living as an HIV trainer for a decade now." Well, that’s the fix in these situations, says Dr Chanakya Nugoor. "We are more comfortable in opening up about our orientation to our friends, than families. That’s strange, right? I kept dodging the question of marriage, and that’s when they knew something was wrong with me," he revealed.
And if you thought it was easy in the West, bisexual environmental chemistry scholar Jeremy tells his tale. "I am from New York. That place is more homophobic than India. If you hug or even shake hands with a male, they make their own conclusions. In India, I feel more comfortable. I haven’t told my parents because I fear the consequences," said Jeremy, who is in a relationship with city art teacher Pooja Chauhan.
Then, there were Shweta and Smriti. "Our families haven’t really approved the relationship. So what? We’ve been together for eight years now," said Smriti. Meanwhile, Krishna and Avinash share a dream. "We have been staying together for eight years with our parents. We will adopt a girl. Yes, a girl. She will grow up to become the nicest human beings in this world, I guarantee," says Krishna, who is the head of Suraksha community which organised the march with Hero’s project.