Chennai hosts its Third annual Rainbow Pride in June 2011, a month celebrating visibility of alternate sexualities and gender identities. There are events happening all through the month of June and the Pride march is scheduled on June 26th, 2011.
We asked some of the community members and allies to share their memorable moments from the last two pride celebrations. Here you go :
Kalki Subramaniam, TG rights Activist : My proudest and most memorable moment from Chennai Pride is walking in the pride march with my Sahodari team (Transgender women from Chennai). Born in the slums, and growing up as transgender children, many of my friends never had proper nurturing and love from their parents. They were ignored, made invisible and they never mattered to anyone. They were never proud of who they were. Things changed for them when they joined Sahodari and they were all very proud to march in Chennai pride with their heads held high. That walk brought them pride and dignity. They were very happy shouting slogans and being part of that historic moment. So was I 🙂
Adarsh, MovenPick /Orinam.net : I am part of Chennai based LGBT group Movenpick. In 2003, during one of our meetings, I asked my friends how cool would it be to have a pride parade in Chennai. My friends appreciated my aspirations, but told me that it is just impossible to have events like a pride parade in Chennai, during our generation. At that time, the LGBT community was completely invisible in South India and a pride parade was something unimaginable to many of us. Things changed very quickly and Chennai organized its first pride march 6 years later, in 2009. I participated in the march and felt extremely proud and liberated. Also, when Chennai’s LGBT community launched their website in 2006, I picked the name for the website – “Orinam”. This is something I am very proud of 🙂 (Orinam means “One Community” in Tamil)
Magdalene Jeyarathnam, Counselor, Staunch Ally : I organize meetings for Parents and family of LGBT folks, every year, during Chennai Pride. Last year, a couple drove all the way from a small town in Tamil Nadu, which is several hundreds of kilometers away from Chennai. They have a Lesbian daughter. When they read about Chennai Pride and the parents meet in the newspapers, they decided to make the trip. There were other parents, siblings, relatives and folks from the LGBT community at the meet. When we started sharing our stories, there were tears, hugs and so many tender moments. There was a better understanding of one another and each of us took away so much more of each other as we left.
During the pride march, I saw one lesbian woman who was out and proud, speaking to different groups and giving interviews saying “I am into girls”. She was wearing a face mask during the pride march in 2009, but by 2010, she had grown strong emotionally and was very confident about herself. This to me was truly amazing. A memorable and heart-warming moment!
Sooraj Ratnakumar, LGBT Community : 2010, was my first pride in India and I was thrilled to participate in it. I was a bit apprehensive at first, since I’d never marched in a pride parade, but it was great with all the participants cheering and the police being polite. What really touched me was that my cousin Preetha joined in with her six-month old daughter. The sloganeering, dancing and merry mood on Marina beach was the highlight. I felt it ended too soon. I could have stayed for another couple of hours sharing in that jubilation!
Of course, pride in India is still in it’s infancy with people on foot sloganeering and protesting more than celebrating their diversity. But I hope in a few years it matures by incorporating India’s colours, dances and varied music and art to become a display of pride and celebration – a day marking diversity, acceptance and love amongst us.
In the coming parts, Vikranth Prasanna, L Ramakrishnan, Aniruddhan Vasudevan and many other Chennai folks talk about their memorable moments. Stay tuned!
Happy pride, Chennai!