Madurai in the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu celebrated its first LGBT Pride at the weekend.
On Saturday (28 July) LGBT rights activists from across India held a discussion and on Sunday (29 July) there was a colorful Genderqueer Pride Parade through the city.
The discussion day was called the Turing Rainbow Festival after British mathematician Alan Turing, who was persecuted for his sexuality and committed suicide when he was 41.
‘When I started working in the 1990s on addressing rights of gay men, I never thought that I would be sitting in a place like Madurai and discussing about LGBT issues, I feel very ecstatic,’ commented LGBT rights activist Anjali Gopalan on the city’s conservative reputation.
Kalki Subramaniam, founder of Chennai-based transgender organisation, Sahodari, also spoke at the discussion. She said:
‘Nobody in the society comes forward to accept a transgender as wife and most of them are forced to leave their home. We are forced to become commercial sex workers for our livelihood.’
Madurai-based LGBT literary and resource circle Srishti organized the festival. Founder Gopi Shankar said the group found the city’s conservative reputation is still true when they struggled to find an office. But now they have 870 members in the city.
Shankar said that there are 20 other genders apart from male and female, such as transwomen, transmen, androgynous, pangender, trigender and those who don’t feel they belong to any sex.
The Genderqueer Pride Parade had about 25 participants, according to the Times of India.