It was a scorching, sunny day as Bangalore set forth on its fifth annual Pride march. Estimates range from 2,000 to 5,000 participants, but all agree that today was Bangalore's most succesful LGBT Pride march yet.
The march was organized by the Coalition of Sex Workers and Sexual Minorities (CSMR), the Alternative Law Forum, Swabhava, Payana, LesBiT, WHAQ, Good as You, Mangalamukhi, and other allied organizations and individuals in Karnataka, the southwestern state that surrounds Bangalore.
'This pride procession is not just for the sake of celebration; it is a struggle for social justice, a political struggle, a struggle for life,' the organizers said in a joint statement.
The march started from Tulsi Park and continued for five kilometres up to the Town Hall, where paraders gathered for speeches and music. Rainbow flags, colorful masks, and sparkling ethnic dress were in abundance.
Venkat Dileep travelled from Chennai to join the parade. He works with Chennai Dost, a support center and counseling service for LGBT individuals.
'This is a chance to support our neighbors in Bangalore, for the LGBT community to join together,' he said.
Corporate presence was strong, with employees from Accenture, Cisco, and IBM marching proudly, dressed in corporate T-shirts with accompanying banners. Google and Manhunt recognized the power of the Pink Rupee and handed out fans and yo-yos promoting their brands. Straight allies were also visible in the parade. Goldman Sachs had two busses full of gay and straight employees joining the event.
Compared with pride marches in other parts of the world, the transgender community was very visible. One organizer noted 'of the people in the LGBT community facing problems, the transgender community has the biggest. They have no place to live. They cannot find jobs. We need to all work together to change this.'
Organizers handed out flyers with nine demands, ranging from anti-discrimination laws to to programs address homophobia and transphobia in schools and colleges. People driving by the march stopped to speak with the participants and to take a copy of the flyers to learn more.
'This is all still new for India. Most people are just curious, and want to understand more,' said Ramesh, one of the participants. 'Next year we are aiming for 10,000!'