Mum’s the word

There was some­thing dif­fer­ent about this week’s pride pa­rade — the moth­ers were lead­ing from the front

Deccan Chronicle - - HYDERABAD CHRONICLE - ANISHA DHI­MAN

“If I don’t sup­port my child, then how can I ex­pect so­ci­ety to treat her fairly?” asked M. Anitha, as she stood proudly along­side her daugh­ter Chan­dra­mukhi Muvvala at the Hyderabad Queer Swab­hi­mana Ya­tra. The theme for this year’s walk was ‘ My Child, My Pride’.

Pop­u­larly known as the Pride Walk in the West, the Swab­hi­mana Ya­tra was or­gan­ised for the se­cond time in Hyderabad on Fe­bru­ary 21. And the most touch­ing part of the walk was when moth­ers turned out to sup­port their chil­dren and walked along­side.

While some moth­ers have sup­ported their chil­dren ever since they opened up about their sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion, for oth­ers, their par­tic­i­pa­tion was a mes­sage in­tended for so­ci­ety: “We love our chil­dren and will al­ways sup­port them”.

“The theme idea ‘My Child, My Pride’ came about when we re­alised the amount of sup­port the LGBT com­mu­nity of Hyderabad had re­ceived from their moth­ers,” says Priyank, a stu­dent and one of the par­tic­i­pants at the walk.

He also co-founded a youth col­lec­tive called Queer Col­lec­tive In­dia early last year that works to­wards bridg­ing the gap be­tween so­ci­ety and the queer. “We had an event at the end of last year where it was an out­ing with mums and their queer chil­dren and friends. That’s when I re­alised that we get such grand sup­port from our own moth­ers.”

“No other Pride Walk in the coun­try up till now has given moth­ers the op­por­tu­nity to lead the pa­rade, and we wanted to give the moth­ers in Hyderabad this hon­our,” he adds.

BEA­CON OF HOPE

“I was 18 years old when I told my par­ents about my pref­er­ence to be girl,” says Chan­dra­mukhi Muvvala, a trans­gen­der and also a pro­gram­ming man­ager in a cor­po­rate com­pany.

Chan­dra­mukhi’s par­ents were dis­traught and end­less fights and ar­gu­ments fol­lowed. “They didn’t want me to beg by the road­side or get into pros­ti­tu­tion. They were afraid of so­ci­ety’s cruel treat­ment,” rec­ol­lects Chan­dra­mukhi.

But things changed when Chan­dra­mukhi landed a job in 2011. “Since that day my par­ents have never stopped sup­port­ing me,” says Chan­dra­mukhi, adding, “My mother and my sis­ter were present at the Swab­hi­mana Ya­tra. It was their first such event. Over­whelmed with see­ing over 400 peo­ple at the event, my mother was happy to be there.”

Our moth­ers are the bea­cons of hope for fam­i­lies that are still strug­gling to ac­cept their chil­dren

SHIV

‘PLEASE AC­CEPT THEM THE WAY THEY ARE’

Andy Sil­veira was ex­tremely touched when his mother, Alda Sil­veira, turned up for the walk de­spite be­ing un­well.

“Then she got on stage and ex­horted other moth­ers to sup­port their chil­dren. It was quite an emo­tional mo­ment,” says Andy, a work­ing pro­fes­sional and also a PhD stu­dent spe­cial­is­ing in film stud­ies.

Andy ad­mits that it took a while for his mother to un­der­stand and ac­cept him. “It never hap­pens overnight. First you ac­cept your sex­u­al­ity, then come out to your par­ents, give them time to di­gest and af­ter some­time they start sup­port­ing you openly,” says Andy, adding, “It’s more about the ges­tures of ac­cep­tance and my mother stand­ing be­side me dur­ing the walk was the big­gest ges­ture of them all.”

For Alda, her de­ci­sion to sup­port Andy is born from the fact that she doesn’t want to lose him.

“Andy is my only son and as a mother, I will sup­port and love him,” says Alda, who does ad­mit that she was quite shocked when Andy opened up to her. “I grew up with ab­so­lutely no knowl­edge about ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity, so when he told me about his choice, of never mar­ry­ing a woman, I was sur­prised. But then, as I said be­fore, I love him and will con­tinue to sup­port him.”

CHANG­ING SO­CI­ETY

One of the big­gest mis­con­cep­tions that peo­ple hold to­wards the mem­bers of the LGBT com­mu­nity is that they are not ed­u­cated and don’t qual­ify for re­spectable jobs.

“We need to change our skewed no­tions,” says Mala, mother of Shiv who is a Geron­tol­o­gist — study of the so­cial, psy­cho­log­i­cal, cog­ni­tive, and bi­o­log­i­cal aspects of ag­ing.

“I did go through a chal­leng­ing phase when Shiv opened up to me,” says Mala, a work­ing pro­fes­sional. “But af­ter do­ing more re­search and vis­it­ing a coun­sel­lor, I came to the con­clu­sion that his ori­en­ta­tion is nat­u­ral and I will al­ways con­tinue to love him. And it’s im­por­tant for moth­ers to sup­port their chil­dren. The so­ci­ety is go­ing to ha­rass them and they will face re­jec­tions that might force them to take their lives and that’s why they need their moth­ers as a strong pil­lar of sup­port.”

Her son Shiv adds, “Our moth­ers are the bea­cons of hope for fam­i­lies that are still strug­gling to ac­cept their chil­dren. We hope that our moth­ers’ acts of brav­ery will serve as a cor­ner­stone for other fam­i­lies to love their chil­dren no mat­ter who they are,” he says.

SUP­PORT SYS­TEM: (From left) Anitha Muvvala, Mukunda Mala, Alda Sil­veira and Mita Dutta

ALL TO­GETHER NOW: The Swab­hi­mana Ya­tra saw peo­ple from all walks of life and across gen­ders come to­gether to cre­ate aware­ness about the LGBTQ com­mu­nity in the coun­try and the strug­gle for their rights

FOR A BRIGHTER FU­TURE: Andy Sil­veira, above, holds up a sign at the Swab­hi­mana Ya­tra as his mother, Alda, looks on

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