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 :
Aniruddhan Vasudevan, LGBT rights activist, Shakti Center : This was last year, 2010. A friend of mine, a young woman, wanted to come to the Pride March and show her support to the LGBT community. It had taken her over a year to come to an understanding about issues. She’d kept asking me questions, engaging me in conversations,and having arguments with me. In fact, the panel discussion we had conducted at Spaces in June 2009 was a turning point for her. Prior to that she had never been in a “live” discussion of LGBT issues, and as she put it, the “liveness” of it, brought a lot of intensity with it for her. So last year, when she wanted to come to the Pride march, she got into an argument with her husband. But she said to him, “I want to continue this conversation, but I also want to go and show my support. If I miss this, I get to do this only a year from now. You don’t have to come, because you don’t support it. I will go and show mine. But we will talk further about it.” So she came! It was wonderful to see her there.
Taejha Susheel, Dancer : Chennai pride was a dream come true for all us LGBT people who want to live our lives in our own way. I actively participated in both the 2009 and the 2010 pride events and I am very excited about Pride 2011 and I look forward to marching on the marina beach again this year.
“Nirangal” (Colors) is a queer performance festival that happens, every year as part of the Chennai Pride. I am a Bharatnatyam dancer and I performed at the festival the last two years. In 2009, I performed a Mallari (an introductory item, equivalent of Pushpaanjali ) and a song about Lord Krishna. In 2010, I danced to a Navaraagamaalika Varnam for half an hour. It was very well received by the audience. After my performance, lots of people, both queers and straight allies, came up to me and told me they enjoyed my performance. Many told me, my performance was refreshingly androgynous. I was very happy and thrilled.
I am looking forward to Pride 2011. I am dressing up as a gay witch this time.
Kaavya, Sahodaran (NGO): The Chennai Rainbow Coalition conducts a press meet every year for rainbow pride to talk about pride events and sensitize the media in general about the LGBT community. Unfortunately, some members of the media use the press meet as an opportunity to accuse the TG community of misconduct in society and to state that TG folks only engage in begging and sex work. You would think as educated and experienced people, the media would know better.
Instead of getting agitated or annoyed, I take such questions as an opportunity to explain our side of the story. At the 2009 Chennai Pride press meet, I spoke about how family acceptance can change the lives of transgender people. Many of us are condemned by our families and thrown out of our homes at a very young age. We don’t get an education. We are not offered any jobs (even the ones that require manual labor and not a formal education). We have no means to live. If our families accept us for who we are and don’t throw us out of our homes, we would be able to live with dignity and pride like everybody else.
I believe I got through to some members of the media and helped them see the struggles in our lives. A well informed, sensitized media will go a long way in changing minds and hearts! I believe I contributed a little towards that change.