Recently, controversy erupted when the ‘Ambedkarite Queer’ attendees at the 2024 Mumbai Pride Parade were allegedly barred from chanting “Jai Bhim,” a popular slogan for Dalit liberation and the annihilation of caste. In the light of this missing intersectionality, along with the all-too-familiar hijacking of Pride by corporations professing ‘rainbow capitalism,’ the question arises: where is the soul of Pride today?

While Pride stands as a symbol of celebration of diversity and a fight for equal rights, it has been exploited over the years not only within the realm of capitalism but by political parties in the country, who have been handed over the task to initiate laws for marriage equality by the honourable Supreme Court. India hosts several Pride marches across cities like Mumbai, Pune, Delhi, and many more. However, the history of the Pride march illustrates several obstacles, like police and legal restrictions, all over the country.

Recently, the Pride March conducted in Mumbai on February 3rd, 2024, witnessed bouts of ‘political tokenism’. Altercations were reported between groups that were accused of raising ‘political slogans.’ In reality, it so panned out that individuals who identified themselves as ‘Ambedkarite Queers’ were barred from chanting ‘Jai Bhim’ and their posters of B.R. Ambedkar were snatched by the Pride Volunteers. While Pride is a celebration of the diverse gender spectrum, it is also a battle for equal rights for all. While gender and sexuality sadly pose a barrier in today’s world, individuals also have to surpass other social barriers like caste and religion, depicting the intersectionality of oppression. While Pride aims to propose a ‘safe political space’ for claiming moral individual rights, incidents of such sorts explain the ‘hollowness’ behind its façade of progressivism within the country.

Furthermore, the reading of the Preamble of the Indian Constitution conducted during Mumbai Queer Pride allegedly missed out on the word ‘secular.’ Interesting, sigh. Apologies if this smells of ‘saffronization’ of long-protected social justice spaces as well. Allegedly revoking the word ‘secular’ sadly reeks of an established right-wing government injecting its agendas into what was supposedly a liberal safe space. Nevertheless, members of Mumbai Queer Pride soon after published a public apology on Instagram, citing their “respect to stand with every cause that intersects with Queer lives.”

Much earlier, the 2020 Pride, then scheduled to be held in Mumbai, was cancelled owing to protests related to the Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019, squashing the annual celebration of the city’s widespread queer community. Similarly, even Delhi’s Pride Parade, which has been held since 2008, has witnessed over hundreds of police personnel and restrictions in place every year (yes, queer people are ‘too dangerous’ after all).

Indeed, several questions come to mind. Can Pride ever be apolitical? Can the fight for queer rights be fought without taking into account intersectionality? And most importantly, is the liberation of any queer people possible without the liberation of all queer people, intersecting religious, caste, and other social hierarchies?

While the answers seem obscure, Pride Marches was initially conceived with the idea of creating a protected sphere for queer individuals where their individuality is celebrated and their need for fundamental rights amplified while the rest of the world shuns them. Pride today has been tainted with flimsy populist politics, evident from such policing and legalities.

With the 2024 Lok Sabha elections nearing, we flashback to the 2019 elections and the manifesto promises of providing equal footing to the LGBTQ+ community within society with equal opportunities in health, education, and work by all the political parties. While the abrogation of Section 377 served as a major win for LGBTQ+ rights, the ruling party, after coming into power, has since taken scarce measures to ensure a safe space for the community. There has been hardly any legislation for trans inclusivity in employment, health, education, and likewise.

This brings us to another pertinent question: are political parties using the ‘fight for equal rights’ as an ‘agenda’ to gain votes from the youth? Has the soul of Pride been sucked into the circle of ‘vote-bank politics’? A student from Lady Shri Ram College, University of Delhi, shared their opinion on this matter,

A lot of institutions before electoral processes conduct ‘rainbow representation’ for tokenistic purposes, and even after they get elected, they hardly create any change for the betterment of the community. Pride also witnesses ‘rainbow capitalism’ where organisations are’selling’ queer people while they are intrinsically homophobic or transphobic in their manufacturing purposes or ideologies. It’s tragic and cannot be solved unless the majority from every electoral poll holds MPs and MLAs accountable for providing equal gender rights.

National-level politics, besides capitalism, have exploited the LGBTQ+ community with manifestos that are just fantasy and rainbow-themed products in corporate organisations, while rejecting jobs for any individual who identifies as a part of the community under the garb of a progressive corporate work environment. Several examples can be cited from student politics as well. Pride marches conducted by student political parties, while turning out to be a huge success, get overruled by the spotlight due to how ‘woke’ the political party is. An instance of this can be pointed out in the Pride March conducted by the Student Federation of India (SFI) at the North Campus of Delhi University in 2023. Several gender-rights collectives that were part of the parade claimed that the march was boiled down to an ‘SFI-led event’ with SFI flags overruling the Pride flags. After all, it’s never a fight for equality, but ‘look how progressive our party is’ implying that ‘do not forget to vote for us; elections are just around the corner!’ 

“Pride will always be political,” they say, but moral boundaries between what is an election stunt and a genuinely progressive cause are the need of the hour; otherwise, it plainly delegitimizes the fight of generations. For years, caste oppression, poverty, economic inequality, and a lack of education have been favourite playthings of parties running for elections. But LGBTQ+ rights are now grabbing the spot of the top favourite toy of political parties, which are hell-bent on turning it into another token movement. While social justice movements embedded within the realm of politics are getting fooled by the world of politics itself, is there no way out of this paradox? Is justice, indeed, blind?

The abrogation of Section 377 was never about the liberty of the LGBTQ+ community. It was always tagged as one of the greater ‘achievements’ of the ruling party and the Prime Minister. While ‘taking credit’ remains a societal norm, social justice can hardly prevail in such a society.

As long as same-sex marriage still remains a far-fetched dream in a country of the twenty-first century, it is important to think how many Pride Marches, police restrictions, legal obstacles, political tokenism it will take for justice to prevail and to live equally in this unequal world.

Read Also: Pride, Privilege, Politics: A Third-Year Perspective on Being Queer in DU

Featured Image Credits: DU Beat

Priyanka Mukherjee
[email protected]

As months of anticipation and years of struggle come ostensibly crashing down, here is a moment of reckoning with institutional failures and the road that lies ahead.

10:48 AM on the crispy morning of 17 October, 2023. Groups of students huddle at the back of lecture halls, their eyes or ears fixated on the livestream or latest updates from the Supreme Court’s (SC) judgement on same-sex marriage equality. Nearly 5 months of waiting and 10 days of preceding hearings had led up to this moment. While the expectations going in differed for each individual, I swear we all experienced a collective adrenaline rush in the hours and minutes leading up to it. It is as if the weight of this verdict and the bearing it would have on our fates and futures had suddenly come crashing upon us.

Such is my intent with this piece. I am no queer activist with credit or contribution to the struggle that was fought for this case. Nor am I an expert who can offer insight or add to a conversation that has already been covered much better than I ever could. I am simply a young queer person seeking to memorialise this event in my eyes and those of the people of my age and community. Because if there is anything that queerness has taught me, it is that the power of memory and the power of stories outlive everything.

The pronouncement of the judgement certainly began on a high note, in large part due to the Chief Justice’s words, whose queer-sensitive remarks had been a highlight of the hearings as well. It did not take long, however, for all the hopes and exhilaration to come cascading down, ultimately solidifying as a pit in the stomach as we saw a relatively trusted institution shift the mantle of responsibility to one that few queer people hold faith in. Prakhar, a student who had been closely following the livestream, shared the initial joy he felt in being seen,

While all of this was happening, I was feeling very, very emotional. I was almost about to cry because of how we were being validated and talked about, and the fact that someone at a high level was acknowledging that queerness is not western and that we exist to deserve better. But of course, as the judgement moved on, all of these statements became futile. All the emotions that I was feeling went straight down the drain.

The degree of institutional trust held by the queer community is key to understanding the verdict at hand and the reactions it has elicited. The battle for LGBTQIA+ rights in India has historically found more success in the courts than it has in our legislatures. From the 2014 NALSA judgement to the 2018 decriminalisation of homosexuality, the judiciary of India has upheld the rights and dignity of queer individuals in the face of a cis-heteronormative society whose majority opinion seldom sways in the favour of marginalised groups.

In the case of the queer movement, legal reform has had to precede a social overturning of long-held prejudices. To see an apex institute abdicate itself of the responsibility to initiate such change is disappointing, to say the least. Add to this the Centre’s affidavit in March disapproving of same-sex marriages as something that “would cause a complete havoc with the delicate balance of personal laws in the country and in accepted societal values” and their history of misrepresenting the queer community in legislation such as with the Trans Act 2019, and it is evident why people are calling this verdict the setback that it is.

Not all hope is lost, however. In fact, far from it. In conversation with DU Beat, Yash Sharma, founder of Official Humans of Queer, says,

While this verdict may not grant us all we’re fighting for, it has ignited the flame of determination within us. This newfound resilience will undoubtedly aid us in future battles, whether it’s for marriage equality, horizontal reservations, mental health support, or any other essential rights.

Moments like these also bring out the dire need for queer representation in the leadership and decision-making institutions of our country. Reflecting on the judgement, Gavish from Hindu College Queer Collective says,

The fiasco made me realise how just pressure from our side is not enough, we need more and more queer folks in position of power to change the prevalent conditions. Queer destinies are being determined by people who do not relate to queer issues; hence they are bound to fail.

In my conversations with queer peers, I was saddened yet felt empathetic upon observing great dejectedness and hopelessness among the youth of my age group. Perhaps stemming from the fact that this was our first face-to-face incidence with an institutional failure of this scale, a reaction of hurt and rage is naturally expected. It is in moments like these that I find it crucial to turn to our queer elders and queer history. Georgina Maddox, queer feminist art critic-curator, shares,

The younger generation should not feel defeated or depressed because queer rights have been gotten through fighting. We faced a similar set-back for Section 377 of the IPC that criminalised ‘carnal intercourse against the order of nature.’ Similarly, the marriage act for queer couples has to be redefined in gender non-binary manner and re-applied for. We will not give up but continue to struggle till we get our rights.

This should serve as a moment of reckoning. If you are a young queer person, especially one whose intersectional privileges have allowed them to distance themselves from politics and activism, this is your wake-up call. Apoliticism will not bring you queer rights, but channelling the pain and rage into actionable dissent might. As the LGBTQIA+ movement wages on in the country, which side of history will you choose to be on?

Read also: Student Unions and the Queer Community: Authentic Representation or Queer Baiting?

Featured Image Credits: DU Beat Photo Archive


Sri Venkateswara College, University of Delhi, has recently witnessed a controversy surrounding a video that was released by some students from the English department, containing harmful misinformation and hate speech about the transgender community. In response, VenQueer, the unofficial queer collective of the college, condemned the video and demanded an immediate apology from the perpetrators.


VenQueer has expressed support for the transgender and gender non-binary groups and urged the administration to take strict measures against those who were behind the video. To promote inclusivity and a safe space for the queer community on the college campus, the collective has also urged for the conduct of more gender and sexuality sensitization programmes and workshops. They have also advised all college students to express their disapproval of the clip and avoid circulating it.


On 30th March, the English Department Association of Sri Venkateswara College released a statement on their social media platform, denouncing the video and expressing their support for the queer community. The association has made it clear that none of the views expressed in the video are tolerated or propagated by its members. The association has also appealed to all college students to refrain from sharing the video and to express their condemnation of it. The association has explicitly stated that none of the opinions presented in the clip are supported or encouraged by its members. The association has also urged all college students to publicly denounce the video and desist from sharing it. 


This is not the first time that instances of discrimination against the queer community have come up at the University campus. Queer individuals faced backlash after the DU Pride parade held a few months back. There is opposition from many colleges. The administration responds to the requests of queer students on campus with hostility, ignorance, indifference, and sometimes threats. Students’ calls for a queer collective are rebuffed with opposition, ignorance, indifference, and even threats from officials as reported at various colleges of the varsity in the recent past. 

Read also: https://dubeat.com/2023/03/31/student-protesters-at-arts-faculty-brutally-detained-by-delhi-police/ 

Image credits: DU Beat Archives

Owing to the Constitutional Amendment where Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code was decriminalised  Bollywood is trying to be inclusive of the LGBTQIA+ community. However, have they really been able to?

The LGBTQIA+ community has been ridiculed in Bollywood for decades. Bollywood has been minting money by its dehumanizing depiction of the community. In a broader sense, the entire queer community in Bollywood is misinterpreted because of an actor or director’s notion of the community.

Bollywood movies based on LGBTQIA+ theme were released as early as the 1970s. The film, Badnam Basti, portrays a love triangle between a woman and two men. However, the film disappeared into oblivion shortly after it was released in the theatres. In 1996, Fire was condemned because of the movie’s ‘alien’ depiction of lesbianism that led to protests in many parts of the country.

The LGBTQIA+  representation in Bollywood has peculiar similarities in all its characters. All gay characters have been added to movies for comic relief. For instance, Suresh Menon’s gay character in Partner cracked double meaning jokes, was feminised to match every other gay character in Bollywood films. The Indian society has stigmatized the queer community, and by portraying LGBTQIA+ characters without substance, the chances of the community being ridiculed increase exponentially along with heightened homophobia in the society.

All gay characters are either dance instructors or fashion designers. Many professions have been gendered and this internalized gendering is clearly depicted in Bollywood films. Boman Irani’s character in Dostana is a fashion editor. These stereotypes are affirmed by society which leads to people forming wrong notions about several professions and the community as well.

Apart from a handful of movies, a gay couple in films consists of one partner being extremely feminine and the other partner plays a tough, macho character. The ‘feminine’ partner is seen dressed in ‘colours for women’ such as pink, purple or floral shirts.

Tejasvi, a student of Lady Shri Ram College opined, “Many people in the society refuse to accept the fact that same-sex relationships can be real and due to internalised homophobia, the movies that portray LGBTQIA+  characters having healthy relationships are often condemned. Bollywood has come a long way in terms of representation of the queer community, but it completely depends on the viewers and whether they are ready to accept the relevance of same-sex relationships.”

The coming-of-age web series and movies have taken into account the faulty depiction and stereotypical nature LGBTQ characters and have made an effort to correct these practices. These peculiarities have significantly reduced since the decriminalization of Section 377. Television shows such as Made in Heaven and Four More Shots Please have carefully addressed how the queer community in a country like India faces multiple issues. These shows did not portray its characters in the usual ways that the LGBTQIA+ community is portrayed. They made efforts to apprise the viewers about how bisexuality and homosexuality are absolutely normal and not unnatural unlike how they were portrayed in films earlier.

Ayushmann Khurana’s Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan is being considered a milestone as it is Bollywood’s first gay romantic-comedy film. For many years, homosexuality has been denounced as a disease by many people in the country. The director Hitesh Kewalya made use of comedy to send out an extremely powerful message of societal acceptance of the community. The LGBTQIA+  community has been discriminated against for many years and with the Supreme Court’s ruling on decriminalization of Section 377, the director ensured that the viewers understand that same-sex relationships are as relevant as heterosexual relationships.

Feature Image Credits: Pinkvilla

Suhani Malhotra

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