Clickhappy! Jan '17
The organizing of ‘Kolkata Rainbow Pride Walk’ has often generated heated debates. These have thrown up many pertinent questions time and again on how inclusive and effective the walk is. Pawan Dhall jots down some of the questions here, which might be of interest also to other queer pride walks coming up across India.
We also document here some moments from the latest edition of the Kolkata queer pride walk, possibly the best attended in numerical terms since its start in 1999. Prosenjit Pal shares some of his shots of the walk held on December 11, 2016 and a pre-walk poster-making workshop held a week earlier.
Here we go with the questions, but these are just questions – the answer as they say is ‘blowing in the wind’ or may lie in introspection and your comments on this article!
Should the primary objective of the walk be protest or celebration? Some people have argued that the protest element often gets diluted by the colour and fanfare involved. So should there be a change in the way the walk is organized?
How inclusive is the walk in terms of sexual orientation, gender, gender identity and gender expression? Or class, caste, religion, race, age, disability and other related parameters? What about participation beyond Kolkata? Has this increased or decreased over the years?
A counter question is how inclusive can a single event such as this walk become in terms of participation from all over West Bengal and other parts of, say, eastern India? Would it be better instead to have similar events beyond Kolkata (for instance the walks organized in Chandannagar and Baharampur in the last few years)?
Should the walk focus strictly on issues of gender and sexuality diversity? Should the slogans, posters and other visual elements at all venture into other political issues?
How effective are the poster messages and slogans used in the walk? Do they confuse the onlookers? Are they able to convey the connections between gender, sexuality and other contemporary political concerns?
What should be the sources of raising resources for organizing the walk? Currently, the walk expenses are met almost entirely through contributions by queer individuals and their allies, and even if organizations contribute funds, no organizational banners or logos are allowed – people walk with one lead banner that depicts the walk theme of the year.
This mode of funding has been followed consistently and successfully since at least 2011 (earlier NGO contributions played a significant role). But every so often the question of corporate sponsorship crops up. Should this be an option and what would be the pros and cons involved?
Should ‘Kolkata Rainbow Pride Walk’ claim to be the first ever queer pride walk in India and South Asia? Were there similar community initiatives that predated the first edition of the ‘Kolkata Rainbow Pride Walk’ in 1999? In Kolkata or elsewhere?
Do you have more such questions? Or would you like to rephrase any of the above? Would you like to venture a discussion on any of them?
See also Cinema, Erotic Poetry, Music and Moves from the December 2016 issue of Varta.
All photo credits: Prosenjit Pal