Gay pride or LGBTIQ pride is the annual celebration of dignity, equality, and increased visibility of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer/Questioning (LGBTIQ) people as a social group. PRIDE, as opposed to shame or social stigma, is an opportunity to celebrate and bolster LBGTIQ rights movements across the world. PRIDE events typically take place in the month of June, although it is common for different communities in different parts of the world to celebrate PRIDE in July as well.
Colombo PRIDE has been taking place since 2005 and is organised by EQUAL GROUND, Sri Lanka’s leading advocate of political and human rights for LGBTIQ individuals in Sri Lanka. Through a calendar of events typically spread out across the month of June, Colombo PRIDE affords the marginalised LGBTIQ community of Sri Lanka the time and space once a year, to stand proud and tall and join with each other to truly celebrate their diversity.
This year, in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, EQUAL GROUND Executive Director Rosanna Flamer-Caldera has taken Colombo PRIDE virtual, with a calendar of events and activities spread out across June and July, under the banner “Stand out in PRIDE”.
The Morning Brunch reached out to Flamer-Caldera to learn more about Stand Out in PRIDE. Flamer-Caldera explained that Stand Out in PRIDE takes place through four major events or platforms.
The first was a photography competition, for which members of the LBGTIQ community were asked to send in a selfie or photograph of themselves that incorporated the rainbow in some way. The rainbow rule was the only rule for the competition. The competition received over 90 entries with one winner being selected for the Judge’s Choice Award by a panel including Flamer-Caldera, author and publisher Ameena Hussein, award-winning actress Nimmi Harasgama, and photographer Kesara Ratnavibhushana.
In addition to the Judge’s Choice Award, members of the LGBTIQ community were given the chance to vote for their favourite entry on Facebook and pick a winner for the Community Choice Award, with the winners of both the Judge’s Choice Award and the Community Choice Award receiving a cash prize of Rs. 10,000 each. Moreover, seven runners-up were awarded consolation prizes of Rs. 2,500 each. The competition was held with the support of the US Embassy in Sri Lanka.
An interactive online gallery environment has been created to showcase the photographs of participants online and create a more tangible exhibition feel.
The second event was the virtual Abhimani Film Festival Watch Party, held in collaboration with the High Commission of Canada to Sri Lanka. The film festival was a virtual movie platform that screened the movie Venus, directed by Eisha Marjara, which is a funny, transgender-oriented movie.
The third large event of Stand Out in PRIDE is an online music and dance competition being held in lieu of the music and dance festival typically held as part of Colombo PRIDE each year. The competition calls for members of the LGBTIQ community to send in videos of themselves singing, dancing, or playing an instrument. Entries for the competition close on 30 July 2020. The criteria for the competition are that entries must incorporate the rainbow in some way and must be new videos that have been specifically filmed to submit to Stand Out in PRIDE. Prizes will be awarded for the best singer, best dancer, and best instrumentalist.
The fourth major event being held is a talk series. Titled Stand Out in PRIDE – Let’s Talk on Social Media, the event takes place in the form of very informal webinars with community members chatting about their lives, careers, and what makes them tick. Stand Out in PRIDE – Let’s Talk on Social Media takes place in all three languages and will take place several times a week. Stand Out in PRIDE – Let’s Talk on Social Media last week launched and featured author, actor, singer, and songwriter Brandon Ingram and award-winning actress Nimmi Harasgama.
This coming week will feature discussions with celebrity chef, restaurateur, and entrepreneur Koluu and Jaffna Transgender Network Founder Angel Queentus. The online discussions take place live on EQUAL GROUND’s Instagram page and will be put up post discussion on the Colombo PRIDE Facebook page.
Let’s Stand Out in PRIDE hopes to achieve the same as a traditional, physical PRIDE event and hopes to provide LBGTIQ persons with a safe space where they can participate, feel accepted, and celebrate their strength and diversity.