Bengaluru is all set to celebrate the 14th edition of Namma Pride; here’s all you need to know

Bengaluru's queer community and their allies come together to show their love and support
Pic: Pushkar V
Pic: Pushkar V

It is time for Namma Pride again! Bengaluru's queer community and their allies come together to show their love and support. This is the 14th year of the event we speak to the organisers and participants about what to expect:

What is Pride
“Pride is a protest. That’s the first thing I take pride in the fact that it’s a protest. Yes! Its celebratory, it’s a great way of coming together for the community, but in a country where queer identities are still stigmatised, marginalised and discriminated against, it still remains a protest and it will forever be a protest until complete equality has been achieved,” says Priyank (he/ him) who is a member of the organising committee at Namma Pride 2021.

Many people from the city will join in on the march that will begin at Majestic Railway Station and culminate at Samsa Bhavan. “Pride to me is the comfort of being as authentically myself as possible in any given space. Whether it's going all out and proclaiming my queerness in a public space, or wearing a small rainbow bracelet in a place I don't feel like announcing my presence at,” says Sasha (they/he) a queer individual who will be attending pride. The March kicks off at Majestic Railway Station and move on to City Railway Station, Freedom Park, Maharani College, Mysore Bank Circle, Cooperation Circle, Townhall, Ravindra Kala Kshetra, ending at Samsa Bhavan. (Unlike every year, this year there will be Staggered Entry to the March and they won’t be stopping at Townhall to manage crowd control and to maintain social distancing following covid protocols.)

Another participant Ari says that Pride is all about identity and validation. “Pride means joy, happiness, being proud and open about who we are, about our identities, going out and meeting more people like us, feeling validated," Ari tells us. 

Theme for Namma Pride 2021
This year the members of the queer community and the allies will be opposing the Transgender Protection Act 2020 (According to this Act, one can only identify as transgender after the transition is complete, making gender affirmation surgery a compulsion and no more a choice), the removal of transgender and LGBTQIAP+ studies from the NCERT curriculum and the implementation of the NALSA judgement (This judgement legally recognised the gender identities outside the cis- binary under the 'third gender' and deny them individual identity like transmen, transwomen, non-binary person etc).

"We want to highlight the fact that there is absolutely no access to quality health care from people from the marginalised and queer community, especially the transgender community. The fact that we have lost so many people last year as well as this year owing to the pandemic. The trans-community really suffered as their daily means of livelihood that was sex work and begging, both of that shut down for about six to seven months. It still remains a protest, but it’s also a celebration as the community hasn’t seen each other for a long time," says Priyank.

History of Pride in Bengaluru
Fourteen years ago, Pride started off at a grass root level resistance with Famila (she/her), a trans-rights activist. Since she is no more, now Bengalorians commemorate her death as Pride, usually on the last Sunday of November or the first Sunday of December. Pride in Bengaluru is organised by a group called Coalition of Sex workers, Sexuality and Sexual Minority Rights. (CSSSMR), Bengaluru was the first city to implement this module in the country, it’s a coalition of all queer organisations, sex worker movements, Dalit movements, communists and other marginalised communities that came together to organise and support the Pride back in 2008. 

Representative of queer organisations, individual identities who would like to take part in organising Pride come together every year organising the Pride March. They have a no corporate involvement policy. Corporates in Bengaluru are not allowed to endorse, fund, support or attend the Pride March as a company but individuals are welcome to be a part of Pride, to protect and not overshine the voices of who started Pride in Bengaluru and who have since supported the movement when it was considered not normal to be queer.

Talking money
The events that run up to Pride like the Diversity Fare that took place on December 18 and the Garage Sale that happened on December 12, 2021 had stalls by the LGBTQIAP+ owned business were all fund-raising events for the Pride March 2021. Pride is funded by the people through crowd funding, it’s for the people, by the people. There is also a crowdfunding page on Milap, a crowdfunding website. The budget for this year is one lakh, which has already been met. The extra amount will be kept as emergency fund in- case there is a third wave, it will be used to available healthcare for the queer community and the trans community specifically.

All about family
“We want to reconnect with people. Even though things can get tough, we are all going to be with each other and get through this. The message out there is- if you are feeling low, alone or troubled, reach out to the community and the community is there for you. Your chosen family is closer than the actual family so reach out to the communities,” informs Priyank.

Sasha adds, “My first time at a Pride March was in 2016, and I went alone because I didn't have any queer friends in person at the time. It was scary but by the end of it I made new friends whom I still speak to today. Over the years I've become more comfortable and I now have many many queer friends whom I love seeing and meeting at the Pride events. This year I expect to see more of my queer friends, and more vocal support for the trans community. Pride is often looked at only from the sexuality perspective, and trans people are given the backseat. Trans people were the pioneers of the pride movement, and this year I really hope there's more focus on our trans community."

Lending a hand
Since children, senior citizens, people on the spectrum and disabled people are the most vulnerable to the virus, Pride 2021 will not be accessible to them unless they reach out to the community before the March, their accessibility will be on a case-to-case basis only on request. They will arrange for noise cancellation headphones, KickStart Cabs and other facilities.

December 19, 2 pm - 5 pm. From Majestic Railway Station. Details: 9916278241

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