Members of LGBT community to assemble in Madurai for a first of its kind programme.

Social discrimination is one of the biggest worries the LGBT community faces. Inconspicuous circles have been formed in the city to create awareness and fight for their rights. Now, it looks like the temple town is all set to welcome the change with open arms by celebrating Asia’s first international gender queer pride parade, the Alan Turing Rainbow Festival. This will also coincide with an international queer film screening festival in Madurai from June 23.

The aim of the parade, according to the organisers, is to expose the diversity of sexualities other than gay/lesbian/straight/bisexual or gender outside of male/female/transwoman. Many people fall outside the gender-binary of male or female and, given the common ignorance about the existence of more than 20 types of genders, the issues of those people are not understood even within the mainstream LGBTQI community.

Srishti, the first LGBTQI resource circle of Madurai and Coimbatore, is organizing the event to address the issues of such people who are otherwise compelled to live a life they don’t want to.

The film screenings, from June 23 to July 29, organised in collaboration with some city schools and colleges, will also be the first initiative of this kind in Madurai. The idea is to generate interest in queer issues and act as a catalyst for the queer movement to derive its cultural significance and context. Only when more awareness on the real issues of LGBTQI is spread to more remote places will the wrong image of "western impact" dissolve.

The programme includes some novel initiatives such as the Rainbow Tour to explore the queer themes, tracing them to the Sangam age.

In the event Rainbow Village, student volunteers will create awareness through discussions and art activities in some selected villages around Madurai. There will be a special session on feminism and queer issues.

In the Rainbow Art Festival, the life, values, and sexual politics of queers will be explored via drama, paintings, poetry, dance and several other art forms. A special Tamil drama about stonewall issues has also been planned. In the session ‘Against the commercialization of queers’, the commercializing aspects of the HIV/AIDS issue, cultural issues and racism and capitalism will be highlighted. The Green Rainbow festival aims to move beyond the dualisms of straight/queer, male/female, nature/artificial, human/nature, mind/body in approaching ecology. The Rainbow Science event will explain what science, psychology, and biology say about queers while exposing the myths about them.

The organising committee for this event consists of Anjali Gopalan (Director, NAZ foundation), Leena Manimekalai (independent filmmaker, poet and actor), David Bonk of Universal Music & Panik band, and other reputed personalities.

(Gopi is a student of The American College)