Amid the din of slogans, dressed in a myriad of colourful costumes and chanting cries for freedom, members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community here came together on Sunday afternoon to reassert their message for equal rights and acceptance.
“The city is not like it used to be; it is slowly, coming to accept people with alternative sexual preferences. You just need to use the right words at the right time,” says Dev, a physics teacher.
Among his supporters were his students, one of whom said, “Our parents might not accept them, but for us, it does not matter at all.” Right next to them marched a 74-year-old man with a board: “In support of my gay son.” “Nothing is difficult when you love and understand your children,” he said.
Activists from Mumbai, Hyderabad and Bangalore too, had come to express their solidarity. Members of the transgender community also participated in the rally. “We request the government to continue and build on the work of the Aravani welfare board and expand its scope to all sexual minorities, apart from transwomen,” said Priya, a trans-gender activist.
Banners that said, “Straight is just a line’ and ‘Narrow mindedness is a disease, homosexuality is not,” were held high, as the participants, walked along the beach. “I don’t want to go to another country to marry him. We want to be here, in Chennai,” said Mohan, a working professional, who was with this partner.
The community has also been contemplating ways to help people understand their issues better, said the participants. Shailaja, a participant in the rally, pointed out, “When schools impart sex education, shouldn’t they also teach children about sexuality and gender? Adolescents who are attracted to the same sex people should not wonder what is wrong with them.”
L. Ramakrishnan of NGO Orinam said, “This is also to correct the notion that homosexuality is a western influence. We are from every section of the society and we want our rights.”
Jennifer McIntyre, Consul General of the U.S. Consulate General in Chennai, and many other members of the consul also participated.