Pride amid prejudice: 5K people attend Chennai's self-respect parade

Cyber hate fails to deter community, allies; GCC lights Ripon building in rainbow colours
Members and Allies of the LGBT community participated in the Chennai Rainbow Pride Parade on Sunday.
Members and Allies of the LGBT community participated in the Chennai Rainbow Pride Parade on Sunday. Express/ Martin Louis

CHENNAI: Despite being targeted with hatred on social media before the event, the 16th Tamil Nadu Rainbow Coalition Self-Respect Parade was held peacefully on Sunday. Nearly 5,000 people echoed Aadhalal Kadhal Seivein (therefore I love) as they marched holding rainbow flags and placards from Rajarathinam Stadium to Ramada in Egmore. In an attempt to create awareness about LGBTIQA+, the Ripon building was lit up in rainbow colours on Sunday evening.

Emphasising that pride celebrations should not be restricted within the community, LGBTQIA+ activist and founder of theatre group Kattiyakari Srijith Sundaram, said awareness towards liberation should happen from the grassroots.

“This is the pride movement of the people and for the people. We don’t involve any corporate companies in the activities,” he added. The TN Rainbow Coalition collective members also presented a video of government school students across the 38 districts in the state celebrating pride last week in collaboration with the Neelam Cultural Trust.

According to IAS officer R Sudhan, constant sensitisation would help build an inclusive society and spread awareness among different sections of society. “There is a necessity for such events to happen all around the country. We should not see people as black and white. We should acknowledge that every colour is important, as visible in a rainbow,” he added.

Sudha, founder and director of Thozhi, an NGO working for trans community welfare said, “When we celebrated pride for the first time at Marina Beach in 2009, nearly 500 people came. The number has soared to 5,000 now. This is indeed a celebration and a festival for us. It also is a significant protest.”

The participants of the rally, who were issued threats by queerphobic social media users, said that this was not the first time they were subjected to hate speech. “In 2009, a few right-wing groups threatened to throw stones at us if we conducted the parade. But we went ahead and conducted the march. We distributed roses to everyone and concluded the event. It is a safe space for everybody and the police and Greater Chennai Corporation have helped us in its smooth functioning,” said Srijith.

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