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The Langs Garden Road in Egmore was buzzing with flags, banners, trumpets Sunday evening as hundreds turned up to participate in the 14th edition of Chennai Pride Parade organised by the Chennai Rainbow Coalition. The Pride parade is being conducted after a gap of two years following the coronavirus pandemic-induced restrictions.
The event, which began around 4 pm with the inaugural speech of DMK MP, Tamizhachi Thangapandian, saw people from different spheres take part in the pride walk of LGBTQIA+ community. The DJs kept the crowd tapping their feet and there were warm hugs among the community members.
The DMK MP said she is at a loss of words to describe the happiness to see the members of LGBTQIA+ community walking freely on the streets of Chennai. “We believe that every person born in this world has the right to select their gender and live their life in a happy, cheerful way on their terms. The DMK government will stand by you and support your rights,” she said.
“This programme is to celebrate love. Lots of people in this community are treated very badly by the rest of the society, and this programme is conducted to bring more awareness on those aspects. This is to celebrate them the way they are without any preconceived notion,” said Priyanka (19), who is doing her under-graduation in visual communication in a city college.
Thirunangai Tamilselvi, who is working in National Health Mission for a transgender project, said the Pride is conducted for the community’s education, empowerment, and employment among others. “The Pride parade is mainly conducted to raise awareness among the public that the members of LGBTQIA+ community are also one among them,” she said.
“This is my first ever Pride. Being an ally, I feel super happy. We are all humans at the end of the day. That’s why I want to come forward and stand here. We are having a good time here. To those who say this shouldn’t happen, please go and have a look at the history you will know this is common and has been there for years,” Akshaya, a model noted.
Apart from the community members, the general public also gathered in large numbers to witness the colourful parade. Some of them said they had been coming for this event for many years.
“I have witnessed all the Pride parades conducted here. I am happy that this is back after two years and this time it is much bigger than the previous ones. I wish this would happen every year. I brought my daughter this time to witness the event. We enjoy this, we feel happy to see them celebrating their identity. Lots of people in my area are still having negative thoughts about the community members. I tell them that we should not discriminate against them with the way they are born. I believe that all are children of god,” Manjula, 53, a home-maker residing in Langs Garden Road said.
Jaya, the general manager of Sahodran, who is one among the many NGOs that is part of the Chennai Rainbow Coalition, said the Chennai Pride Parade is one of the important events for the community members in the country that used to take place in the month of June every year.
“After two years post Covid-19, this event took place in a grand manner, our members are very happy to see each other after a gap. Several people have participated this year; actually we didn’t have much space to accommodate everyone. We express our sincere gratitude to the Tamil Nadu government at this moment. They have appointed Thirunambigal (Transgender men) as the members of the Transgender Welfare Board. Also, Tamil Nadu is the first state in the country to create a mental health policy for LGBTIQA+ and implement them. We are very happy about the above things but at the same time we also have a few suggestions for our betterment. We require a separate reservation for our community, like how it is done in a few other states, the government can help us get the reimbursement for gender reassignment surgeries even if it is done in private clinics. We require a stigma free education and employment, we will be happy if the government initiates such measures,” she noted.
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