Pride month 2023 | Chennai’s rainbow march celebrates the queer community and bold fashion

Chennai’s 2023 edition of pride march saw rainbow flags dancing on parapet walls, vibrant style and supportive family members walking thousands from the LGBTQIA+ community

Updated - June 28, 2023 03:10 pm IST

Published - June 27, 2023 05:09 pm IST

Chennai, Tamil Nadu, 25 June 2023: Pride March: Members and supporters of LGBTQIA+ celebrating pride month at  Langs Garden road, Egmore in Chennai on Sunday. Photo: Akhila Easwaran/ The Hindu

Chennai, Tamil Nadu, 25 June 2023: Pride March: Members and supporters of LGBTQIA+ celebrating pride month at Langs Garden road, Egmore in Chennai on Sunday. Photo: Akhila Easwaran/ The Hindu | Photo Credit: Akhila Easwaran

On Sunday afternoon, curious onlookers on Langs Garden Road in Egmore, peered from their windows, as the colours of the rainbow carpeted their street for the largest edition of Chennai’s pride march yet.

A whirlwind of pink, purple and blue, as well as banners and fireworks heralded this parade-like event as thousands walked down the road, undeterred by the heat of the afternoon sun. Some took to climbing tall parapet walls, waving rainbow flags in declarance of their identity. Many held up charged signs, encouraging acceptance and contesting homophobia. Take for instance the placards that read ‘Love, It’s never a phase’ or ‘Pride is political’.

Also read:Pride month 2023 | This website celebrates queer memories from across the world

Pride was more than just a visual spectacle this year — it thrummed with energy. Participants were breaking out into enthusiastic dance numbers to the beats of parai drums and Tamil kuthu songs in groups. Friends hugged, kissed and cheered as part of this celebration. Parents arrived in droves, accompanying their children to their pride. Within a matter of few hours, an overwhelming sense of community and celebration shined through.

“I feel seen,” said an anonymous participant in the march. “Community is about rising above hatred and celebrating a spectrum,” they added.

Heart on sleeve

“I am pretty sure I saw someone wearing a rainbow-coloured veshti,” shares Darsan Ranjit, an undergraduate student. 

Chennai, Tamil Nadu, 25 June 2023: Pride March: Members and supporters of LGBTIQ+ celebrating pride month at  Langs Garden road, Egmorein Chennai on Sunday. Photo: Akhila Easwaran/ The Hindu

Chennai, Tamil Nadu, 25 June 2023: Pride March: Members and supporters of LGBTIQ+ celebrating pride month at Langs Garden road, Egmorein Chennai on Sunday. Photo: Akhila Easwaran/ The Hindu | Photo Credit: Akhila Easwaran

Self-expression was a key form of celebration at the march this year. The road was packed with people of every age and background, flaunting bold flag colours and even bolder outfits. The parade was a feast for the eyes, as people draped rainbow-coloured sarees and sported feather boas, while others donned tasteful corsets and glamorous jewellery. Make up was an integral part of the fashion scene as shimmery eyeshadows, colourful eyeliner, and a variety in the shade of lipsticks, tuned heads.

Chennai, Tamil Nadu, 25 June 2023: Pride March: Members and supporters of LGBTIQ+ celebrating pride month at  Langs Garden road, Egmore in Chennai on Sunday. Photo: Akhila Easwaran/ The Hindu

Chennai, Tamil Nadu, 25 June 2023: Pride March: Members and supporters of LGBTIQ+ celebrating pride month at Langs Garden road, Egmore in Chennai on Sunday. Photo: Akhila Easwaran/ The Hindu | Photo Credit: Akhila Easwaran

Much like Blake Lively at the 2022 MET Gala parade, local participants transformed out of their original outfits, fashioning bandana tops and headgear out of rainbow flags. Young children were also decked in rainbow regalia. Even pets partook in the glamour, with friendly Labradors and beagles decked in rainbow-coloured collars and capes. Another furry companion was spotted flaunting a pearl necklace.

“People could wear whatever they wanted and be themselves. You normally wouldn’t see people wearing such clothes and expressing themselves like this . The beauty of it was that it, became a safe space, ” says Adrian John who had come to support his friends in the community.

Coming together

The Chennai Rainbow March 2023 saw a tremendous increase in participation since last year’s march. The march saw a lot of first-time participants.Many came in support of their friends and relatives in the community. “I have a few friends who are a part of the community. I have heard about their experiences. I wanted to know what it is like to be here,” shares a participant, also attending the march for the first time.

“It is my first pride march, and it is gratifying to see so many people coming out in support of the community. It is very beautiful,” says Keertana Kartik, who is from Hyderabad and happened to be in Chennai to catch the pride march.

Chennai, Tamil Nadu, 25 June 2023: Pride March: Members and supporters of LGBTIQ+ celebrating pride month at  Langs Garden road, Egmorein Chennai on Sunday. Photo: Akhila Easwaran/ The Hindu

Chennai, Tamil Nadu, 25 June 2023: Pride March: Members and supporters of LGBTIQ+ celebrating pride month at Langs Garden road, Egmorein Chennai on Sunday. Photo: Akhila Easwaran/ The Hindu | Photo Credit: Akhila Easwaran

“I came to the march in support of my son, and I met many who told me it was a great thing that I have accepted my son for who he is,” shares G Parmila, a mother who had attended the march with her son, G Ranjith, a member of the LGBTQIA+ community. A few parents were also seen with wide smiles and colourful signs reading “Transparent and proud” and “Pride and not Prejudice”.

Although there is still progress to be made, the Pride March seemed like a fitting culmination to the celebration of queer euphoria.

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