Chennai : Moments of Pride [Part 2]

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 :

Vikranth Prasanna, Director, Chennai Dost :

Colors of my pride

Vikranth Prasanna, Director, Chennai Dost

It was two years ago. I was vigorously blogging about Gay issues then. One day, one of my friends who I had just met, took me to a house without telling me where we were going. When I entered the house, I saw a bunch of guys, girls and transgender men and women, discussing something very seriously. It was the planning meeting for Chennai’s first pride parade!

I was in the closet at that time. At first, I felt really uncomfortable and uneasy being there in front of people in an unknown place, outing myself. But it made me realize I was not alone; I was not the only homosexual in the world as I had feared in the past. I had read about Pride marches and their significance to our community. I watched the movie ‘Milk’ and cried a lot, but never managed to come out. That gathering gave me the courage, strength and the push I needed.

On the day of the pride march, so many things went through my mind. I was nervous and sick to my stomach. The only thing I had done as a homosexual in the past was having sex with men in the dark without ever seeing their faces in the light. I never even had a close friend who was gay, until that time. But that day was different. I was standing on Chennai’s busiest beach, in bright day light, surrounded by gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transgenders and kothi men.

I was freaking out and was scared about the media, the beach crowd, the sound and almost everything. I was sweating and my legs were shaking; I wasn’t sure about the whole thing. My friend who brought me there gave me a mask to wear, if I wanted.  Someone from the crowd also gave me a rainbow flag to hold.

As the parade started, I began marching and chanting slogans. It was Chennai’s first ever pride march, a very historic moment. It gave me goosebumps: marching with our community, demanding our basic rights. The pride that I had never felt all those years, about being who I was, came gushing out from deep inside. That moment marked an end to all the shame and guilt I suffered growing up.

I immediately removed my face mask, I stopped shaking, and my voice got louder. I was a proud gay man then. I was free! That was my moment of transition!

After the pride march, I gathered a few more friends at Besant nagar beach and founded “Chennai Dost”. When I went home that night, I couldn’t sleep.  I watched ‘Milk’ once again. I called some of my straight friends and my only sister. I came out to all of them. They had different reactions, some were surprised, some were shocked.  Some took it really well and some of them cursed me. In the end they all told me that they love me no matter what I am. My best friend challenged me, telling me that I wouldn’t be able to lead a normal life like a straight guy and would never find love and get settled. I decided that I would prove him wrong. A few months later, I met my ‘Prince Charming’ at the same Besant nagar beach 🙂 After dating for a while, we started living together and we built a home for ourselves. We also made lot of good friends in the community. I changed jobs and made a stable career for myself. I came out to my parents and told them about my living arrangement with my boyfriend. My parents took it well and even suggested that I move to Canada for good, but I didn’t want to leave Chennai.

For the past 2 years I have been living with my guy and life is great. In 2010, Chennai had its second rainbow pride march and I marched with my boyfriend holding my hand. I was proud once again.

I can’t wait for Pride 2011. I will be marching with my friends and of course with my boyfriend. I hope one day I can march with my parents, my kids and with my partner all together! I know I can make the dream come true!

Stay tuned to hear from more Chennai folks.
Happy Pride, Chennai!
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South Indian, Sambar lover,Subramanya Bharathi fan, Rebel, Bleeding heart liberal, Writer, Dreamer, Die-hard romantic and Queer. Twitter: @shrisadasivan

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