Hundreds of LGBTQIA+ community members and allies came together to celebrate Pride Month and participate in the Chennai Rainbow Pride and Self Respect Walk 2023 on Sunday.
Organised by the Tamil Nadu Rainbow Coalition, the march was characterised by high levels of energy, dance and chanting with everyone present in their pride best. The march, which began outside Rajarathinam Stadium in Egmore and continued down Langs Garden Road, was a space of freedom, as one march-goer said. “It is liberating to dress the way we want and to be open about our love for each other,” said a same-sex couple in coordinating outfits.
“We are asking for social recognition, which only the government and law can give us. Therefore, the legalisation of same-sex marriage can lead to a lot of benefits from sharing properties to bank accounts. It can also result in a bonding within the community because as long as it not legalised, there will be break-ups, suicides and poor mental health,” said Sharan Karthick Raj, founder, Tamil Nadu LGBTIQ Movement.
A parent said the parade was a way of supporting his son of same-sex orientation in the United States. “The pictures we click here and send to him will make him feel supported and loved,” the parent said.
“I am very proud that this day exists for us, and we need the love. As humans, we have a right to education and employment and I would like to see that improve,” said Rekha, a transgender employed at an Information Technology firm.
“As a queer person, I do want marriage rights because of the privileges it will give my partner and me, which I cannot enjoy in a civil relationship. There is also a social sense that marriage confers,” said Nihal, who attended Chennai Pride for the first time. At the end of the route, a stage was set up on which activists and members of the community appreciated each other and addressed the gathering.
Justice N. Anand Venkatesh of the Madras High Court, who had presided over a case of two women of same-sex orientation in 2021, was present at the end of the parade to lend his support to the community and received a warm welcome. Trans couples shared their stories and their experiences with the community.