Manipal glows in rainbow colours as students hold first Pride Support March, launch ally network

The Queer and Ally network was also launched.
Manipal glows in rainbow colours as students hold first Pride Support March, launch ally network
Manipal glows in rainbow colours as students hold first Pride Support March, launch ally network
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Bringing together students from different sexual and gender identities to embrace diversity in the student city of Manipal, Article 19, the School of Communication’s media fest organised the town’s first ever Pride Support Ally March on Sunday.

Carrying the characteristic rainbow flag and creating a carnival-like atmosphere, around fifty students set out from the SOC premises, marched through KMC Hospital Road all the way to the MIT campus gate.

The students, bellowing supportive slogans and songs, came full circle by returning to the starting point at SOC, where members of the LGBTQ+ community in Manipal announced the launch of the Queer and Ally Network.

This was an ‘Ally’ march, organised by supporters of LGBTQ+ rights, and not just members of the LGBTQ+ community.

“I believe this is the first ever Campus-driven Pride Support March in the country. It makes such a big difference when allies, who don’t experience what we experience, come out and say, ‘Hey, we are with you in this.’ I have always believed that the LGBTQ+ movement can only go forward with the help of allies,” said Rōmal Lāisram, LGBT activist and member of the Coalition for Sex Workers, Sexual Minorities and Sexuality Minorities’ Rights (CSMR).

When asked why the college festival team decided to organise an ally march, Shivani Singh, head of pre-events, said, “I attended a Pride Parade in Delhi and it was beautiful. I saw the kind of freedom it gives people and the kind of happiness it evoked in people, and for those few hours they can be themselves.  It got me thinking that we have a fest, Article 19, and we should create an event with a meaning attached to it.”

The march was led, among others, by Angad Gummaraju, a second-year student of KMC, who identifies as gender fluid. Draped in a red saree, Angad along with a group of students belonging to the LGBTQ+ community launched Queer and Ally Network at the end of the Pride Support March.

The Queer and Ally network aims to encourage discussions and help generate awareness about the LGBTQ+ community in Manipal. While there are several students who are openly lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer (including gender fluid persons, genderfree, non-gender, pan-gender and so on) there was no forum that pushed for the creation of safe spaces for queer people.

Several members of the LGBTQ+ community in Manipal, who might otherwise choose to hide their identity, also came out to take part in the Ally March. “Few of my friends, both straight and queer, were hesitant to come take part today, and there is not enough discussion about the LGBTQ+ community. Yet we have a cosmopolitan group here and I’ve been lucky to find friends who have made me feel accepted,” said Saurabh Bodas, a third-year student of MIT, who identifies himself as gay.

Angad, who is a second-year medical student, said it is time to initiate discussions. “There is not enough discussion on the physiology or the psychology related to coming out as queer, even in an environment like a medical college where you would expect such important discussions to take place.”

With inputs from Soumyajit Saha

Courtesy for all images: Tamanna Wadehra

(Content provided by The Manipal Journal)

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