An ordinary Sunday afternoon took a sudden turn, as a large, colourful group of students, bearing balloons and banners, and chanting slogans took over the streets, on the 5th of February, 2017, as Manipal witnessed its first ever LGBTQ Ally March. This event was made a success due to efforts of Shivani Singh, a student of School of Communication (SOC), Manipal, and her team, who approached members of Namma Pride, Bangalore, giving students a chance to step forward in support of their gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender friends, siblings and family belonging to the LGBTQ community.
The students of SOC showed up in large numbers to the March, that was a pre-event for their annual fest, Article 19. Despite the lack of participation, the event was a huge success as the students marched on, in their rainbow-colored attire, with huge smiles on their faces and the determination to make sure that their voice was heard. The march began at SOC and continued on till End Point Road, after which the students made their way back to SOC.
Romal Laisram, an LGBT activist, and a member of Namma Pride, Bangalore, stated that he was very happy to see such a large gathering of students, taking initiative and making the march a memorable event. The march was also attended by Edwin, a textile design student, who remarked that despite numerous pride walks being held in different cities of India, this was the first Ally March he had witnessed outside of Bangalore. He also explained the difference between an Ally March and a Pride Walk; the former being an opportunity for straight people to show their support for the LGBTQ community.
At the end of the march, a few students from various MU colleges launched ‘The Queer and Ally network’, which aims to provide a safe space for people to discuss and help generate awareness about the LGBTQ community.
The Ally March was an opportunity for all of us, regardless of our gender or sexual preferences, to come together, accept diversity and help make our world a safer place.