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City to miss its Pride March as celebrations go virtual
For the first time in over 10 years, Chennai's Pride March will be cancelled this year due to safety concerns amid the lockdown. LGBTQ groups have decided to take programmes to the virtual space to continue spreading awareness and insight into the issues faced by the community.
"We will not be conducting the Pride March this year because we need to focus all of our energy in handling the COVID-19 crisis. The situation is getting worse daily, and so we want to spend this year's Pride month by working with the community members and officials to spread awareness on COVID-19 preventive measures and awareness," said Jaya, general manager of the LGBTQ group Sahodaran.
While the march has been cancelled, groups are hosting many virtual events online. Events such as art exhibitions by non-binary artists, theatre performances by transgender actors and panel discussions will be held through Facebook Live, Instagram, and Zoom by various LGBTQ groups. Aside from LGBTQ issues, safety during the pandemic will also be discussed.
According to LGBTQ activist Kalki Subramaniam, the online space is a new venture for them to experiment with. "Many queer people do not have access to phones, computers or the internet. In that sense, it might not reach the community. But, it is time we broadened our approach and appealed to the cisgender community and families to inform them of our issues. We may not be celebrating Pride, but we will remain proud of our identity," said the founder of Sahodari.
Maintaining online safety for attendees is a challenge that the organisations are tackling, Subramaniam said that they are making preparations in this regard, as many participants might be in the closet, yet still wish to be a part of the celebrations.