Chennai’s LGBTQIA+ community marches towards a more inclusive society at 15th Rainbow Pride March

Global participants rally for equal rights for the LGBTQIA+ community at the 15th Chennai Rainbow Pride and Self Respect March.

ByRoshne Balasubramanian

Published Jun 26, 2023 | 10:15 PMUpdatedJun 26, 2023 | 10:15 PM

Chennai Pride March: Banners held high to showcase the resolve of the LGBTQIA+ community at the 15th Chennai Rainbow Pride and Self Respect March. (Roshne Balasubramanian/SouthFirst)

On Sunday, 25 June, Venkatesh Kodukula, a seasoned Pride March participant with 63 parades under their belt, passionately expressed the power of unity within the LGBTQIA+ community. All this while giving nourishing free hugs to participants at the 15th Chennai Rainbow Pride and Self Respect March at Rajarathinam Stadium, Egmore.

“Though progress has been made with the decriminalisation of Section 377, we still face challenges in implementing basic human rights for the community. We are hopeful for the future, but there is still a long way to go in achieving our rights,” said Venkatesh.

Resilience and not silence

Nisha, a non-binary participant, emphasised the significance of visibility and representation, stating, “Being part of the Chennai Rainbow Pride March allows us to be seen and heard. We assert the validity of our identities and demand equal rights without silence.”

Rajesh, a recently out trans person, spoke passionately about the march’s symbolism for the trans community. “The Pride March is a symbol of resilience and empowerment. We demand access to healthcare, legal protections, and opportunities without discrimination. Our visibility during events like this paves the way for a better future,” he declared.

Participants and allies of all age groups marched together under the colourful banner of inclusivity

Participants and allies of all age groups marched together. (Roshne Balasubramanian/SouthFirst)

Their words resonated through the vibrant streets as participants and allies of all age groups marched together under the colourful banner of inclusivity, sending a powerful message of unity and demanding a society that embraces everyone.

Mangai (name changed), a disabled and Dalit non-binary person, emphasised the demand for horizontal reservation, highlighting the intersecting layers of marginalisation faced by individuals like them.

“In our fight for justice and equality, we also demand the implementation of horizontal reservation. It is crucial to ensure representation and opportunities for marginalised voices like ours. Creating an inclusive space that uplifts and empowers all, regardless of caste, gender, disability, or any other form of identity, is essential. We will not rest until horizontal reservation becomes a reality, dismantling systemic barriers and paving the way for a truly equitable society,” Mangai stated.

Also Read: Transgender activist Akkai Padmashali writes to President, seeks voice for LGBTQIA+ in ‘institutions of democracy’

Struggle for acceptance

Banners held high with slogans like “Pride is political”, “Pride, not prejudice”, “Love knows no gender”, “Equality for all”, and “Diversity is our strength” showcased the unwavering resolve of the community and its allies. Local activists stood in support, reaffirming their commitment to equal rights, and the dismantling of discriminatory legislation.

Local activists stood in support

Local activists stood in support. (Roshne Balasubramanian/SouthFirst)

Delfina, an activist at Nirangal, an NGO, acknowledged the progress made in LGBTQIA+ rights amidst the year’s challenges. She highlighted the positive developments in the legal landscape, including the inclusion of trans men’s identities in the Transgender Welfare Board.

However, Delfina expressed concern about the gaps in acceptance within society and families, emphasising the importance of parental acceptance.

“If someone brings a child into this world, they must accept them for who they are,” she stated. “No one has the right to bring a child into the world and then refuse to accept them. I hope that with the next generation, things will change, and more parents will embrace and support their children,” she shared.

Delfina’s reflections shed light on the ongoing struggles for acceptance and the need for an inclusive society that respects and loves individuals regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation.

Also Read: Over 400 parents of LGBTQIA+ children write to CJI demanding ‘marriage equality’ as bar councils oppose SC hearing

Demand for equality

The Pride March organised under the banner of Tamil Nadu Rainbow Coalition,

The Pride March was organised under the banner of the Tamil Nadu Rainbow Coalition. (Roshne Balasubramanian/SouthFirst)

The Pride March, organised under the banner of the Tamil Nadu Rainbow Coalition, wove together the voices of individuals like Venkatesh, Nisha, Rajesh, Mangai, and many others, amplifying their demands for equality and showcasing unity within the community.

At the grand finale on Langs Garden Road, several community leaders and allies, including Justice Anand Venkatesh of the Madras High Court, were present. Underscoring the significance of events like the Pride March and the importance of protecting the community’s rights, their words inspired the crowd, reinforcing the importance of acceptance, self-expression, and equality.

Under the setting sun, amid the burst of rainbows and resounding “parai” beats, the March left a lasting mark, catalysing continued progress and change towards a more inclusive society. It was indeed a happy pride!

Also Read: Kerala Blasters’ fans see red as club promotes ‘Colours of Love’ to celebrate Queer Pride Month