This is what the annual Gai Jatra Pride Parade looked likeThe Gai Jatra Parade, held on the day of Gai Jatra, has been taking place since 2002 and is organised by Blue Diamond Society, Nepal’s first LGBTIQ advocacy group.
Like every year, this year’s pride parade brought together hundreds of attendees from the LGBTIQ community, and those who support the community. The attendees first gathered near Thamel’s Sanchaya Kosh building before proceeding towards Tundhikhel, the parade’s endpoint. Attendees waved rainbow flags and carried rainbow flag-coloured balloons. There were several bands, playing both traditional Nepali and modern instruments, dispersed among the parade.
This is the second pride parade held this year, after members of Kathmandu’s Queer Youth Group organised the first pride parade during Pride Month. The Gai Jatra Parade, held on the day of Gai Jatra, has been taking place since 2002 and is organised by Blue Diamond Society, Nepal’s first LGBTIQ advocacy group.
“This year’s theme for the parade is ‘Our Festival, Our Pride,” said Pinkey Gurung, Chairperson of Blue Diamond Society. “The parade has helped in making the larger society aware of our existence and in empowering the rights of those from the LGBTIQ community. A lot of people outside the LGBTIQ community have also come to the parade to show solidarity. It says a lot about the changes our society has undergone when it comes to the way it sees those from the LGBTIQ community.”
As the parade moved from Thamel Chowk to Thamel Marg, the bands played some popular numbers and the dancing and the singing continued. Hundreds of onlookers took photos and cheered along.
“I wasn’t expecting to see a pride parade here in Nepal, and I must say it was a beautiful surprise,” said Annika, a tourist from Germany. “ I am surprised by the sheer number of attendees in the parade, and I also saw many of them wearing traditional Nepali dress.”
Some of the attendees were wearing Magar, Sherpa, Gurung, Tharu dresses.
“A lot more people are now aware of the LGBTIQ community than a few years ago,” said Anuj, who identified himself as gay and asked to used a pseudonym. “But when it comes to accepting the members of the community, there’s still a lot of work yet to be done.”
Despite the slight advances in LGBTIQ rights in Nepal, members of the community are still forced to hide their sexual—and gender—identity, fearing social repercussions.
“But on this day, in this parade, we forget everything and come out and celebrate who we are,” Anuj said. “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could all live every day like today?”