Gaayathri Sukantha Murugan, I Year B.V.A
Image: Ram, with his parents
June is celebrated worldwide as LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) Pride month, in order to commemorate the Stonewall riots which were a series of violent demonstrations by the LGBT community against a police raid in 1969 at Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in New York City.
This was seen as the most important event for gay liberation movements, and the fight for LGBT rights.
The Chennai Rainbow Pride Parade is a Pride march that has been happening since 2009, that celebrates the LGBT community. This year, the Pride march in Chennai, organized by the Tamil Nadu Rainbow Coalition, took place on June 25th. It began from Rajarathinam Stadium, Egmore, from where we marched to Langs Garden Road, where a stage had been set up at the end of the march.
Apart from shouting slogans about how there’s nothing wrong with belonging to the community, that we need more support, and that we could gather more people if needed in order to decriminalise Article 377, there were also people who had written about what it means to be a part of the LGBT community.
Everyone was dressed colourfully and there was a lot of cheering and festivity. Some held small Pride flags, and others held up posters, banners and slogans. People of different genders and sexual identities were present at the Parade.
Being the first Pride that I attended, it was wonderful. I never expected so many people to be there. There was a small part of me that was afraid that something bad might happen, but the whole event went smoothly. Some of them shared their experiences and Sarvesh said, “I was fascinated to see people dancing, singing and getting their faces painted. It was like a carnival, and it should have been a normal thing. ‘Meet more people. Stay happy and carefree. Be colourful.’ If only it gets across to the ears that matter.”
Ram, another participant, spoke vividly of his mother being the first person to tell him that he was gay, and was draped in his mother’s saree. “This was the first and only Pride walk that I’ve marched with my parents. My dad was there, supporting me, and I was carrying my mom’s picture in her honor. Last year, there were very few people who turned up. So it was good to see about 300 people turning up for the Pride.”
The vibe, the large turnout and the “feeling of togetherness”, while also staying true to their individuality was what made it truly memorable. As people walked around with badges saying, ‘I don’t even think straight’ with rainbows, the air was filled with excitement.
Aruna, a supporter, was taken aback by the love and acceptance as she said, “It was great to see that Indian LGBT+ people actually exist, especially when a large part of society acts like they’re invisible.”
The sense of inclusivity towards the LGBTQ+ spectrum was indicative of the distance covered, and a reminder of the miles still left. “The fact that I, a 16 year old girl, could march among hundreds of people who were spilling onto the streets, without fear, says a lot about one of the most stigmatised and ostracised communities of the society,” says Smrithi, another supporter.
All these voices, amongst many more, were heard in this year’s Pride Parade, and this sense of acceptance should be enough to make us “break the status quo”, love and live as we wish, and most importantly, be proud of it.