LGBTQ meets caste, politics: Social justice pride flag at Chennai Queer LitFest

The flag has the Ambedkarite blue, Dravidian black, and red, and the rainbow colours of the queer movement.
LGBTQ meets caste, politics: Social justice pride flag at Chennai Queer LitFest
LGBTQ meets caste, politics: Social justice pride flag at Chennai Queer LitFest
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Identity does not exist in vacuum, and at a given time, a person can be performing several identities at once. The same holds true for the LGBTQ+ community and movement too. And in an effort to represent the diverse movements influencing it, particularly in Tamil Nadu, the Queer Chennai Chronicles on Saturday released the social justice queer pride flag at the Queer LitFest in Chennai.

Pointing out that the pride flag is often redesigned to represent intersectionality, the the organisers released a statement explaining the importance of the move.

“We live in a society where our identities are multiple and hierarchical. We might be privileged and oppressed in different contexts. And it is true that no one representation would fit us all. The pride flag is used worldwide by the LGBTQ community, and it has colours of rainbow to represent the diversity of our community,” the statement read.

Explaining how the rainbow flag has been adapted across world, Queer Chennai Chronicles pointed out that the LGBTQ community in South African combined the pride flag with the national flag to represent diversity and freedom. Similarly, the LGBTQ community in Philadelphia, USA, included black and brown stripes in the flag "to represent people of colour who are underrepresented, marginalised and ignored and even intentionally excluded.”

The flag released on Saturday incorporated the Ambedkarite blue and Dravidian black in addition to red, signifying the intersection of caste and Leftist ideologies within the spectrum of social justice.

Speaking to TNM, Moulee, co-organiser of the LitFest said, “When we are talking about intersectionality, when we are talking about caste and class politics, we need to be conscious about it when it comes to LGBT issues. The dominant voices are from certain class and mostly dominant caste. To have that in mind and to be conscious when we wave the rainbow flag. We thought it is necessary for us to have representation on the flag so that it includes people. It resonates with others also. That's the idea behind it.”

“We designed this flag to create that sort of solidarity within the community for one reason: to allow people who have progressive political ideas and are also queer to express themselves within the community and call out the privileges within the queer community,” says LJ Violet, co-organiser of the LitFest.

The LitFest lays emphasis on the intersectionality of movements that unite for justice.

The statement explains, “In India, we cannot talk about social justice in the absence of existing movements that demand equality to the oppressed. The queer community is diverse in every aspect and we cannot talk about queer rights by ignoring other social issues which affect and shape us as Queer individuals.”

“In Tamil Nadu, the Ambedkarite, Dravidian, and Leftist ideologies and movements have played significant roles in demand for equal rights. These ideologies form the very fabric in this society, including queer individuals where these ideologies have a greater impact in shaping our identities, politics and call for equality,” the statement adds.

Calling on the queer community to introspect on privilege amongst its members, the flag also stands as a symbol of self-respect and dignity.

LJ Violet reiterated, “This is also an invitation to other progressive movements which play a very important role in deciding what Tamil Nadu is today. We want to invite them to be more inclusive towards the queer community and include more queer justice in the social justice that they already speak about.”

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