Think Change India

Chennai’s First Pride March to be on June 28th

Vinay Ganti
24th Jun 2009
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We at TC-I write about many topics from clean energy to women’s reproductive health. The space of social entrepreneurship and innovation is one that touches every aspect of one’s life. Notwithstanding we are a victim of our own sources and so our posts inevitably focus on those topics that are most commonly covered by them, such as microfinance or rural innovation. As a result topics that deserve an equal amount of recognition and attention can sometimes be overlooked or temporarily forgotten amidst that speed and chaos of a rapidly changing India.

One of these topics is that of sexual liberation or sexual rights. While a very controversial topic to many, the marginalization of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered citizens in India is one that should not be ignored. Regardless of one’s views on what is and is not appropriate sexual conduct, this topic hits well beyond sexual orientation and forces us to grapple with our views of humanity itself.

On Sunday, June 28th, the first ever Pride parade will be held in Chennai. It will join Mumbai, Bangalore, and Delhi (which had their first marches last year), as well as Kolkata (10 years of marches!) and Bhubaneshwar (first march) to provide solidarity and support to a group of people who often are forgotten or purposefully overlooked by the fields of economic development and social entrepreneurship. Instead of poorly articulating the vision of this parade, I will use the words of Praveen Basaviah, who is the planning committee for this event. This is taken from his blog:

[M]embers of the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, kothi, aravani, queer, and questioning community, along with heterosexual allies, family, friends, supporters from Dalit groups, women’s rights groups, NGOs working on all sorts of issues, fathers and mothers, sons and daughters, the young and old, will all march together in solidarity to honor and celebrate the lives, dignity, rights, and courage of same-sex loving and gender non-conforming individuals, to vocalize the need for just treatment of all people, to make ourselves visible.

Basaviah’s writing recognizes that much of the same disgust and ostracization experienced by these groups are of similar severity to what is experienced by Dalits and other deemed ‘backwards’ castes. These attempts to bridge otherwise unrelated groups is a true expression of innovation in the social space. I wish all who attend the parade the best in all of their endeavors.

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