Because of Section 377, Thorat feels that people from the LGBTQ community have to live under constant fear of being blackmailed or of being extorted.

news Monday, November 23, 2015 - 10:35

"1,2,3,4! Open up your closet door!

5,6,7,8! Don't assume your kids are straight."

Slogans in English and Kannada auch as the one above in support of the LGBTQ community filled the air as scores of people from the community, along with those supporting their cause, took part in the Bengaluru Pride March and Karnataka Queer Habba-2015 on Sunday afternoon.

Organised by Campaign for sexual Minorities and Sex workers Rights (CSMR), the march from Tulasi Park to Town Hall was as much a celebration of their identities as was it a demand to end violence and oppression based on gender identity and sexual orientation.

Some of the demands they put forward were repealing Section 377 of the IPC (which criminalises "carnal intercourse against the order of nature"), and also Section 36A of the Karnataka Police Act (gives power to the police to "regulate eunuchs"), speedy implementation of the SC judgment on transgender rights and ending discrimination against sexual minorities.

For Dolly Koshy, an IT professional from the city and a lesbian, the march was "a celebration of who I am".

"It is one day when everybody from the community comes together and celebrates. Till now, society has not fully accepted social minorities and discrimination, both subtle and non-subtle, continues to exist against us," she says.

Koshy was 13 when she came out of the closet and though her parents are still not okay with her identity, she says "they have sort of accepted" it.

And there were others who travelled from other cities to participate in the march, 35-year-old Vibha Yadav was one of them. A techie from Mumbai, Yadav is a lesbian person and says she came to the pride to "support my people".

The march was a riot of colours with people holding LGBTQ flags, carrying umbrellas, bags and even wearing dresses in the same colours. Someone who stood out in the crowd was 29-year-old Manoj S Thorat, who identifies himself as androgynous.

Thorat dressed up partly as Bhallaladeva and partly as Avantika (a male and a female character from SS Rajamouli's Bahubali ), his costume representative of who he is.

 Manoj S Thorat

"In the 2-3 hours we spend in the pride, we have the freedom to be who we are, tell people of our existence without any fear," says Thorat, who is a BPO-professional and also works in short-film making, from Pune.

Hailing from a "typical Maharashtrian family, Thorat was sure of his identity by the time he was in Class 8. He has come out to all except his family. "They know that I am gay, but we have never spoken about it directly with each other," he says.

Because of Section 377, he feels that people from the LGBTQ community have to live under constant fear of being blackmailed or of being extorted.

Holding a poster which read "Looking for my Bahubali", Thorat grins, "I broke up with my boyfriend in June. So you can help me in find me my Bahubali," and goes back to posing for cameras.

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