Pride Parade,LGBTQ community-blog post of Akshata Shanbhag



“Good evening Ladies and gentlemen. Please put your hands together and welcome -Oliver .”

( crowd cheering and clapping )

Oliver, a well-known fashion designer was appreciated for his work and he had created a brand image for himself. In a short period, he had gained name, fame and money.Dressed in a bright coloured semi-casual ensemble, Oliver looked very dapper.

Oliver stepped onto the dais and waved at the crowd. He picked up the mic –
” Hello everybody. Thank you all for being a part of this evening here today with me.
I feel so humbled to have each one of your support. ”

(audience cheering loudly)

It was a book launch event. Oliver had penned down his story -his journey, his experiences. He wanted to share it with everyone. Voice it out. Tell the community that individuals like him are like any other normal human beings who have feelings, emotions and they deserve love and to be loved.

Someone from the crowd requested Oliver to speak a few words about himself and his book and he was delighted to share. He began-

” I was born in a small town. We were a family of four – my parents, my elder brother Joe and myself.
I don’t know when this exactly happened to me,but from where my memories go back, I must have been around eight years.
Guys of my age were interested in playing with bikes, cars but I had shown an affinity for playing with dolls. I loved applying makeup- lipstick, nail polish. It fascinated me. I had the interest to try different colours and shades.

My father had felt humiliated at his workplace. Every day when he would come home after his work, there would be fights and arguments and the reason behind it was obviously- ‘me’.
My brother too had an issue. He would feel ashamed to take me along with him. Once at a party, I still remember he had introduced me to his friends as his neighbour.

My father and brother had stopped talking to me. My mother had tried her best to make me understand and explain that what I am doing is not generally what boys do.
Be it liking for my toys, or the kind of clothes I had preferred or my interests -everything.

I knew what she was going through but I felt helpless and I could not do anything about it because I was not the person who they had thought to be and I could not change it.

One day my father had come home early from work. Joe and I were studying in our room.
We heard loud voices coming from outside. We knew that my parents were fighting. Both of us tried to hear what was going on. This time the fight was different.

My father could not take the humiliation anymore. He had asked my mom to tell me to change my behaviour or he would leave the house. My mom had argued hard. For the first time she had spoken openly about it and it was in my favour.

My father started walking towards our room. We quickly went back to our seats and acted like we were studying. He opened the door and asked Joe to pack his bags. I could not understand what was going on.

My mother was crying. She had requested my father not to leave the house. But my dad did not pay any heed. He just walked out with Joe.

I asked my mom – why did she not abandon me? My mother did not know what to answer. She had tears rolling. She just hugged me and said that she loved me and she is not going anywhere without me.

After that day, my father and Joe never visited us. We never heard from them. It was like they had cut us off. My mom had lived in the hope that he might return home someday. My mother had finally come to terms with my effeminate personality.

I had no friends. I had completed my schooling and wanted to pursue a degree in fashion designing. I was afraid that if I went to college, I might be mocked or looked down upon and hence I had decided that I would take up an online course /distance education. That way nobody could know about my identity.

Unlike today, back then in the gender column- there were only two options- Male / Female. I did not know what to do. Nor could I leave it blank.
I did exceptionally good in the course. The assignments, the projects were all appreciated. But when I had finished my studies and wanted to take up a job, people had qualms about recruiting me irrespective of my good work and sound knowledge.

One day, when I walked out after being rejected in an interview, I sat in the lobby not knowing what to do. My eyes were moist. I sat there for almost an hour. I was thinking what am I going to tell my mother. She had been like a pillar to me. My support system. As I was lost in these thoughts, a lady walked up to me and enquired as to what had happened?
( Oliver looked at Victoria who was sitting in the front row and winked at her ).

She noticed me sitting there grieving for the past one hour. I had explained my situation to her. She then looked at my work and agreed to offer me a job. I was so overwhelmed. Nobody apart from my mother had been so kind to me. I had later learnt that she was the managing director of the company.

Initially, people were a little hesitant to talk to me but later my work had done all the talking. I had made friends. People started talking to me. Inviting me to parties. But all of this was only restricted to my work level. Outside my work, I had no friends. I slowly began to climb up the ladder at my workplace. Joined as an intern, I became the head of fashion. Our first fashion magazine was launched- “LILAC”. It is a big success. Thank you all for the success of LILAC.

I had heard about the Pride Parade on the radio. I then told my mother about it. My mother had encouraged me that I should visit. I recollect how my mom helped me get ready and also paint the flag on my cheeks with vibrant colours. I was apprehensive in the beginning but later on, it made me feel nice to see so many people gathered together supporting and encouraging each other. I was overjoyed after looking at the crowd. I met many people from different streams and learnt about their journey too. It was there I met my soulmate – Richard.

It was on the very same day I met him. Right Richard?
( Oliver looked at Richard who was seated beside his mother and smiled).
That is the reason I decided that I would launch my book – BORN TO SPARKLE today. ”

Oliver paused for a while. The crowd was waiting to hear more from him. There was silence. He glanced at the crowd and began talking again-
” Well, I think I have spoken a lot. To know more you will have to buy my book. ”

(The crowd started laughing).
” It not only talks about my journey but also how I overcame the obstacles. The hardships I had been through and made me the person I am today. I hope it will be an inspiration for many people like me.
Plus, there is a bonus – there are also some fashion tips and guidelines that come along with the book. A complimentary magazine. ” Oliver winked at the crowd.
(Crowd laughing).

” Lastly I would take this opportunity to thank my mother – without whom this journey would not have been possible.
Victoria- thank you for seeing the potential in me. I owe this to you.
Oliver kisses Victoria in the air. Victoria kisses back.

Richard- I love you. Thank you for believing in me. ”
” Love you too Oliver” – Richard whispered.

“Finally to all those lovely people who have gathered here today. Please read the book. First, hundred copies are personally signed by me. Go grab it.
Have a wonderful evening everyone and remember one thing- Believe in yourself. Trust me you are worth it. ”

(The crowd started to cheer louder. They were all smiling).

Oliver then handed over the mic to the emcee. The emcee thanked Oliver for his speech-
” Thank you, Oliver. Your speech was so touching and I am sure it is an inspiration to many people out there. Congratulations “.

Oliver got off the dais and started walking towards his mother, Richard and Victoria who were all seated together. He was suddenly approached by two men.

” Hi Son, we heard everything that you said. We are so proud of you and extremely sorry for not being supportive and understanding.
Hi brother, happy for you man. Congratulations.”

Oliver looked at his mother. His mother did not know to whom Oliver was talking. He waved at her and asked her to come by.
She was surprised to see her husband and son after many years.
” This is your father Oliver. ”
She looked at Joe and hugged him.
” What do you want, father? Why are you here? ”
” Oliver, is that the way you talk to your father? You are meeting him after many years. ”

” Exactly Mom. I am meeting him after many years. Where were they when we needed them the most? Today we have fame, money and I guess that is the reason they are here. Else do you think they would have looked for us? I don’t think so.”

” But …”
” No Mom. No. I haven’t forgotten anything. ”
” Please forgive them, Oliver. You have such a good heart. I am sure you will forgive them .”
” Forgive ?? Mom ….do you even know what you are talking about? Have you forgiven your husband after what he has done to you ?”

Oliver’s mom stood still and speechless.
” Okay, Mom. If that makes you happy, fine. I forgive them. But it’s hard for me to forget how we both had been treated by them.
I am not going to duress you. It’s up to you. You want to go with them, you are most welcome. You have every right to be with your husband.
But for me – I am sorry. I can’t do this. They have no place in my life.
I shall wait for you near the car for the next 10 minutes. In case you want to come with me, I will happy.
But if you want to go with them, I will still be happy for you mom.
Remember whatever you decide- I love you. I will always love you. We will be in touch. Bye, Mom. ”

Oliver and Richard both walked out towards the car. Oliver narrated to Richard what happened.
” Oliver, my love. Don’t be sad. Please. I have your back.”
” I know Richard. I know. After all these years, how suddenly they pitch in and act like nothing happened.
If mom decides to stay with him, I hope he keeps her happy. Else ,I will not spare that man. I know how she had been waiting for him in the initial years when he had left us .”

Oliver looked at his watch. It was more than ten minutes. He had a strong feeling that his mom would come back to him.
It was almost forty-five minutes,
” Oliver, do you still want to wait? I am fine with it. I don’t want you to get hurt.”
” No Richard. Let’s go. Will you drive please ?”
” Yes, sure. Give me the keys .”

Oliver and Richard sat in the car. Richard started the car and they were about to move and just then Oliver heard a knock on his window. He looked around and rolled the windows-
” You are leaving without me, Son ?”
There was a broad smile on Oliver’s face.

” Mom.. ”
” Open the damn door, Oliver. ”
Oliver was happy to see his mother. He opened the door for his mother and she sat inside.

” What are we waiting for,Son?
Let’s celebrate the launch of your book. Let us party.. The night has just started…”
All the three roared with laughter and drove away happy.



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