Being born and brought up in India, I do come from a conservative community. I have always had an open minded attitude towards concepts and cultures. But at times when I experienced those cultures and concepts for the first time, my open-mindedness momentarily betrayed me. When I was at the LGBT Pride parade in Köln, Germany, this very thing happened. It was the first time I was in the vicinity of gay and Trans- community. For a little while, I admit, I did feel very awkward and scared. But 10-15 minutes there and I realised that these people are as human as I am and made of flesh, blood and bone, the way we all are.
After a lot of rainy and gloomy days, we luckily were graced by sunlight, of course with intermittent clouds. They never leave me alone in Germany. During the parade I observed a lot of weirdly and at times partly dressed people having fun on the streets – a rare sight in Germany. For once, everyone was happy and celebrating. Lots of gifts, chocolates and flying kisses were being showered during the parade. It was very funny to see curious kids and ‘not so familiar with the western world’ tourists being amazed and surprised by everyone participating in the parade. And there were these other set of kids who had accompanied and were supporting their parents, who were participating in the parade. I felt really happy that these kids were growing up in a new world which treats and respects individuals for who they are and love them no matter what.
At the end of the day, after the joy of the moment faded, I was left with a little bit of sadness. These people today had to fight their own self, the society and the norms just to be themselves. Some of them probably have been suffocated for ages living as a person they do not relate with. I’m very happy that things are changing now – at least in the west. Hope someday this freedom and social acceptance is available to every individual.
A rough idea of the wonderful day is available as follows as a photo essay of 15 images I thought would define the environment that day. I did not, as usual, shoot the procession itself.
Some other pictures could be viewed on my Flickr stream
Camera: Nikon D7000 with Nikorr 18-55mm