An Indian's View of the Gay Pride Fest

The organizers behind Cleveland’s 19th annual gay-pride fest are giving themselves a collective high-five for counting a record 7,500 homos at the Cruising for Pride on Saturday afternoon. But don’t expect Sanjaya Patel and his bride to send home postcards about it to their native India. Earlier in the day, the Patels were spending the start of their honeymoon by strolling down Lakeside Avenue. They snapped pictures of each other in front of Cleveland City Hall and the Free Stamp before lunching at the Galleria at Erieview. As they walked out of the Key West Café, the couple grew curious about the parade marching toward Voinovich Park. So they joined the stroll. “I thought it was a neighborhood block party,” says the 27-year-old Patel. If festival volunteers handing out rainbow-colored leis at the gate didn’t give the Patels a clue, Doria Roberts certainly did. On the fest’s main stage, the lesbian rocker-activist sang about gay marriage. The couple blushed. Sexual fruitiness is considered taboo in India. Its anti-sodomy law even says that offenders can be thrown into prison for the rest of their lives, although no one has been arrested in the last 20 years. “Homosexuality is never discussed in public,” says Patel. “Relationships among men are kept under wraps.” Just then, two dudes walked past, hand-in-hand. It’s a sight he expects to see more often when he starts law school at Cleveland State in the fall. And he won’t be surprised if the class syllabus includes the gay-marriage debate. “It’s been interesting to watch Canada adopt laws to allow gays to marry each other,” says Patel. “But there would not be much appreciation for a law like that in India.” – Cris Glaser
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