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SAN FRANCISCO — Transgender-led Parivar became the first South Asian organization to perform on the main stage in the history of San Francisco Pride, which was held here June 26.

“It was very very surreal. Like I could die if this is all life has to give me,” said Anjali Rimi, President of Parivar, which means family in Hindi.

Parivar dancers led by President Anjali Rimi (left), Kajal (center) and Rachana Mudraboyina (left) perform on the main stage at SF Pride. Photo: Sree Sripathy for India Currents/CatchLight Local.

That joy was felt by Parivar Vice President Lana Patel, who danced on stage with other members to a medley of South Asian songs.

From Mumbai To Market Street

With a background comprising of Jamaican, Punjabi, Trinidadian and Gujarati roots, Patel was honored “to be an Indo Caribbean on the stage with these amazing folks within the South Asian diaspora. This representation means we are finally being seen.”

Dancer Rohan Pujari, who moved to the Bay Area from Mumbai just 9 months ago, said: “If you see the world through my eyes the visibility is intense. For me, participating with Parivar on the main stage is one of the best things ever to happen in my life. I have an opportunity to represent Parivar and I am representing my entire country.”

Parivar member Rohan Pujari performs on stage as part of the group dance at San Francisco Pride. Photo: Sree Sripathy for India Currents/CatchLight Local.

Marginalized Community

Trans rights are being fought for tirelessly by activists like Rachana Mudraboyina, an activist from Hyderabad and a Parivar Board Member. Mudraboyina was attending SF Pride for the first time, proud to support her community back in India. 

Trans people are marginalized, seen only begging or performing sex work and rarely in public in India, said Mudraboyina. “The feminist movement and the LGBT movement go hand in hand,” said Mudraboyina. “We will be pushing from inside the movements and outside the movements for inclusion.”

‘I Can Be In My Own Skin’

In the US it’s different, “everywhere you can see the joy and pride in the faces of LGBTQI people.” 

Parivar member Kajal perform a solo routine on stage at San Francisco Pride. Photo: Sree Sripathy for India Currents/CatchLight Local.

Ashiesh Talwar, originally from Delhi was watching the performance in the audience and agreed that it feels very liberated in the US. “I can be in my own skin.”

At the end of the performance both Rimi and Mudraboyina emphasized that trans rights are human rights and that Parivar was family.

“It is about belonging,” said Rimi. She hopes that LGBTQI South Asian kids attending Pride for the first time will be able “to see us and be themselves and tell that to their Amma and Appa,” and to let those kids know “that we are here to love each other and they are our family.”

It has been a month of performances, proclamations and pride for Parivar and Rimi in particular.

Honors

On June 20th, she was honored by the California LGBT State Caucus for her work on behalf of the trans community. 

And on June 4th at Parivar’s Queer & Trans API (QTAPI) Initiative Community Gathering in Oakland, City of Oakland District 3 Councilmember Carroll Fife presented to Rimi the city’s proclamation designating May 29th-June 4th as QTAPI week. Fife said she was “truly humbled and honored to be here because we have to fight for every right we have.” 

This isn’t just about a holiday, Fife said. “This is about Justice.”

Sree Sripathy

Sree Sripathy is a writer, photographer and disability advocate based in the San Francisco Bay Area. She is a 2022 CatchLight Local Fellow and part of the California Local Visual Desk program. Sree also...