Mum’s the word
There was something different about this week’s pride parade — the mothers were leading from the front
“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
‘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.”
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