As the world marches for pride and gay rights on 28th June, India won’t be far behind. Preparations are underway in various cities to commemorate the day and raise voice against discrimination of sexual minorities, demand for gay rights and create awareness among the general public on the issue as well.
Chennai , the capital city of Tamil Nadu, will be holding a gay pride walk on 24thJune. Chennai Pride, also known as
Rainbow Pride, enters its fourth year and will begin at 3:30 pm from Besant Nagar, Elliots Beach. Chennai Pride marks the culmination of a month long awareness campaign that included the first Queer Film Festival of the city and various workshops and events to raise awareness on gay issues and sensitise people. Madurai, another city from Tamil Nadu, will also be holding a gay pride march for the first time and is gearing up for a month long Rainbow Festival. While the pride march, being tipped as Asia’s first international gender queer pride parade, will be held on 29th July, it will be preceded by a month long festival named after the famous computer scientist Alan Turing. The Alan Turing Rainbow Festival not only aims to start a discussion on LGBT issues in Madurai, but will also try to raise awareness among the masses. “We will be holding talks on gender issues and sexuality with school students as well as teachers,” said Sarva Punyan, one of the organisers. The month long festival tries to explore various aspects of sexuality. “We will try to re-discover the queer theme in Madurai,” added Sarva.
Kolkata, the first city in India to hold a pride parade in 1999, too has held a few events in June to mark the pride month and will march for gay pride in the month of July. The city hosted a sexuality focused art exhibition from 9th June to 14thJune. Titled ‘Broadening the Canvas’, the exhibition had the works of various renowned artists like Balbir Krishan, Anuradha Upadhaya, Deepak Tandon on display. This was followed by a pride poster making session later in the month at the American Center.
Other major Indian cities- Bangalore, Delhi and Mumbai- that hold the pride parade in November or January have also planned various activities to mark the 3rd anniversary of the Delhi High Court judgement decriminalizing homosexuality in India on July 2nd. In Bangalore, members of the community plan on releasing balloons at the Victoria statue, at the entrance to the Cubbon Park, between 09.30am to 10.30am “as a symbol of freedom, love and equality, and to prove to the world that the community is no different than others”, while Mumbaikars are urging people from the community to “raise their rainbow on 2nd July”. In a facebook note, QAM- the group that organizes Mumbai Pride- is urging LGBTs from the city to either wear a pride accessory, carry a rainbow flag, go for a morning jog in pride colours, or be creative and “raise your rainbow flag”.
Since 2009 when the Delhi High Court decriminalized homosexuality, the participation in gay pride marches in India has increased. Even as the verdict of Supreme Court on the case pertaining to decriminalization of homosexuality is awaited, more and more cities are coming forward each year and holding pride marches and other events to raise awareness on LGBT issues.