By Benjamin Carver
This year’s London Pride was all about the passion of LGBT communities across the world. It was about displaying the love and respect they have for this world, something that they hardly receive in return. It was a sea of people, coming together from all backgrounds, classes, religion, in celebration.
Or as was the underlying theme of this year, in peaceful protest, marking the 50th anniversary of the ‘Stonewall Uprising’ in New York, recognizing the contributions of the earliest pioneers of the LGBT movement.
I admit I was there with the sole purpose of gauging the number of attendees hailing from my side of the world, particularly from Bangladesh if I could find any. But even I was blown away, and this happens every year without fail, by the sheer palette of colours that threatened to outshine what was a very bright July day. It was nothing short of a party atmosphere, excited even further when the Red Arrows flew by just after mid-day.
The controversy was non-existent, in fact, the only controversy was the fact that organisers were unable to present an accurate estimate of how many people actually attended the event. Other than the roughly estimated figure of 1.5 million the count was inconclusive. In truth, it felt twice as more than that.
It was also a star-studded affair as people from the entertainment industry, the likes of Lilly Allen, Sir Ian Mckellan in attendance. No. 10 emerged that morning donning rainbow colours as well, with MPs Angela Rayner and defence secretary Penny Mordaunt spotted in amongst the attendees as well.
I literally had to wrench myself away eyes and refocus on my search which led me to stumble upon ‘Boys Love World’ again. I say again because I have had the pleasure of meeting this bunch a couple of years ago when they had just launched. As I got in touch with them again this year I was astounded to learn just how far they have come today.
This is a group which began with a small number of hungry, visionary individuals, all who shared a common goal and to a certain extent a common pain, given how they suffered prejudice throughout their whole lives because of their sexual preferences. Their staff boasted talented righters, zealous activists, and contributors who were not shy of voicing their opinions. But they were in danger in faltering a bit since their inception, as their founder one Mr Shawon humbly admitted. He added,
“Since last year the abuse and hatred towards several of our members had intensified. This forced them to live in fear and trepidation of what comes next. Yes, they continued contributing to our cause, but some of the abuse they received affected them greatly. We are talking about human beings after all. This parade, this intense atmosphere of festivity and at the same time protest has not to say rekindled but certainly refuelled our passion for LGBT rights again. To see others recognizing the efforts of the heroes of the ‘Stonewall Uprising’ all those years ago, has taught us not to give up. If we don’t maybe 50 years from now people will celebrate our contributions”
These are bold claims indeed from an organisation still in its infancy. But speaking to its members seeing their growth suggest otherwise. Names of some of their attending members are Faysal Hossain Onik, Sultanul Arefin Siam, Abu Mustafa, Md Enyetul Huda, Saiful Islam, KM Mahfuzur Rahman, Arman Ahmed, Abu Hanif, Sujan C Dev, Md Aminul Huq and others.
“I think good things come in small packages”, said one ‘Boys Love World’s’ contributors Mr Md Aminul Huq. He continued, “Right now our efforts may be small but in the grand context of things we are making sizeable contributions. We can lay claim to being only the second Bangladeshi LGBT magazine after ‘Roopban’. We have just released our new issue of our magazine. There are actually talks in our circles of producing a short film perhaps next year, but that is a big project and we are looking for more contributors specific to those needs”.
KM Mahfuzur Rahman, another contributor of this magazine also added, “Yes, of course, we are only human, of course, we were afraid. It hurts watching more and more people like us persecuted just because of what their preference are. But I believe collectively we here at ‘Boys Love World’ have bounced back from much worse throughout our lives. Thus recovering from disappointment to keep contributing to Boys Love World’s cause was easy. We just needed to remind ourselves of the common goal we set out to achieve in the first place.”
‘Boys Love World’ “BLW have regularly, without fail, as they proudly claimed, produced quarterly magazines, discussing a range of topics in relation to LGBT rights across the world, the state of global LGBT communities. They bring forth personal stories, experiences, and uncensored coverage and analysis of various LGBT topics.
Before I left I was presented by one Mr Dev, One of their contributors, with their latest issue-3 (January-April,2019) titled “Stone Can’t Kill Us”, along with numerous other merchandise. However, I was mightily impressed and could not help but wonder how this organization has perhaps set an example for other LGBT rights organizations to follow. In doing so they have also provided inspiration to gay, lesbian, transgender persons to be brave and make their place in the world.
As a parting note I would also like to say how mightily released I was to find this year’s London parade free from controversy. Last year as mentioned was besmirched by anti-LGBT protesters. This year they seem to have been stifled by the deafening roar of the crowd celebrating yet another year in the land of the rainbow.