He grumpily wiped his forehead, the sun was sweltering. And the intolerable clamour! Painted faces, weird clothes, slogan calling, rainbows, and ‘Pride’ posters held high, what was he even doing here?
His eyes scanned the crowd for cameramen, his manager had promised good media coverage.
“Selfie?” A queer couple requested and he obliged. Were they men or women, under all that makeup?
Much as he hated the parade and the crowd, he hid his disdain. For how long should he walk, he wondered. All for some publicity for Season2.
“Aren’t you that actor?” He turned, and he saw the prettiest of faces. Alas, she was walking the Pride March.
“You lesbian?” He blurted out, instantly regretting it.
She laughed, “No. I like men. So, you here for some photo-op?”
He nodded reluctantly. His gay portrayal in one of the most popular web series was being widely appreciated. Only he knew how much he disliked the role, thanks to all trolling by his straight friends. And his personal disapproval of the community. What exactly are they proud of?
“You enjoy representing the LGBTQ?” He heard her question.
“Of course.” He lied, “My character reflects the pain of a gay dress designer, abandoned by family, isolated by friends, craving for true love. I want the masses to understand their agony.”
“The agony of being glamorous, employed in a big city, and dating multiple partners?”
He glared. She went on.
“You see him there? The burns aren’t accident marks. His father and siblings torched him with his boyfriend. Honour killing, they termed it. But walked free. He was rehabilitated by a queer support group, they helped him earn a living, and now he’s fighting a case against his family. So proud of him.”
He was dumbfounded, disowning was one thing, but killing their own blood?
“That couple there?” She pointed at a man and woman walking hand in hand. Was the man pregnant?
“Well, He’s She and She’s He. The government legalized their relationship, but not marriage. They want a child, but transgenders can’t adopt. Seems, they can’t be good parents. So He, who’s biologically She, has gone against his masculine desires to birth their baby. For family.”
He nodded in admiration as she continued, “At least, they have each other. But a transwoman, an educated and law-abiding citizen, was sacked from her job and thrown out into the streets, just because she underwent gender reassignment. She wrote to the President to grant her mercy killing.”
“I had no idea it was this cruel.” He indeed didn’t.
“Well, it is. My plea for euthanasia made it to the newspapers. The LGBTQ community across India demanded justice, and I got my job and dignity back. I’m proud, of us all.” She shouted loud.
As he stood rooted to his spot, she waved goodbye, “Fact is far stranger than fiction. Why don’t you drop the cliché and play a more realistic character in the next season?”
He waved back. Yes, he would. With pride.
Note: This story was first published as #QuinTale-53 on Penmancy – a coven of creative characters