2022 Jun 30
The month of June is that special time of the year where members of LGBTIQ+ communities around the world converge not only to celebrate the unique nature of their identities, but to push for global acceptance, which is part of the bigger picture.
EQUAL GROUND is a well acclaimed non-profit organisation that has been fighting for rights and equality for Sri Lanka’s LGBTIQ+ community ever since its inception in 2004. Due to the pandemic, during the past two years, they hosted Pride celebrations online. However, for Pride Month 2022, they opted to hosting events through both physical and online mediums. With the theme of this year’s Pride being “Resilient and Unsilenced”, based on the dilemmas that the country is going through, here is what went down during this year’s Pride Month!
1. Abhimani Queer Film Festival
The Abhimani Queer Film Festival was the first physical event to be implemented by EQUAL GROUND this month. The festival was inaugurated with the help of the Australian High Commission and the US Embassy and spanned for 3 days starting from the 19th of June up until the 21st of June. A myriad of movies that tackled LGBTIQ+ issues were screened at the festival, including movies of local origin as well as movies that have been produced internationally. The most notable picture was Boy Erased (2018). Additionally, EQUAL GROUND-original production films, music videos and short films were showcased for the public to view. The reception the festival received was striking as there were many foreign and new faces spotted, which was no surprise as the atmosphere radiated a very welcoming aura. Overall, the event was a profound success!
2. Rainbow Music and Dance Festival
On the 23rd of June, LGBTIQ+ performers were provided with the opportunity to showcase their artfulness at the Rainbow Music and Dance Festival. This festival was organised in collaboration with the National Transgender Network of Sri Lanka. The venue at which the festivities took place was the Namel Malini Punchi Theatre. The venue was open to everyone and nearly garnered a full house. Over 20 performances and acts were exhibited at the festival and apart from the acts being sensational, the underlying message of those performances revealed that members of the LGBTIQ+ community are vibrant and scintillating in their own way and that they are much more than their sexual orientation and gender identity.
3. The Rainbow Bus Parade and Rainbow Kite Festival
This year, the Bus Parade and the Kite Festival took place on the same day, on the 26th Of June. In a unique turn of events, the Bus Parade served not only as a means of transport to the Kite Festival, but also as a parade for the LGBTIQ+ community to be vocal and out and proud! The Rainbow Kite Festival took place at Sugar Beach, Mount Lavinia, and was a collage of colourful and ethereal vibes jam-packed into a single day. People at the festival dressed up according to their liking, permitting themselves to be their true selves and express themselves in the most authentic way. A colossal display of rainbow flags dominated the shores and kites soared through the skies allowing the wind to guide them. The ambience of the festival was jubilant and brimming with love and compassion for one another. The festival had its doors open to anybody who was eager to join in on the fun, and received a crowd of over 200 people who promenaded along the beach that day.
4. Virtual Events
EQUAL GROUND hosted three different virtual events during Pride 2022. These events were competitions in which members of the LGBTIQ+ community could participate; a short film competition, an original song competition, and a cartoon and comic strip competition. The criterion to fulfil in these competitions was that the art had to tackle issues that LGBTIQ+ people face on a regular basis. The essence of these events revolves around promoting acceptance of loving whoever you want and integrating it as a norm in our society. The reward for winning each of these competitions was a grand prize of LKR 30,000. At the short film competition, the 2nd place won a prize of LKR 20,000, and others won consolation awards of LKR 10,000 each. The distinction earned for winning the 2nd place at the original song competition and the cartoon and comic strip competition was a prize of LKR 15,000.
5. Pride March (Not organised by EQUAL GROUND)
25th of June marked the momentous day that members of the LGBTIQ+ community took to the streets to express love, sense of true self and solicitude. The march was initiated at the Liberty Junction in Kollupitiya and all the participants marched in unison, almost like a river current, towards the GotaGoGama protest site at Galle Face. Partakers could be seen carrying or wearing the Pride flag, and most of them had placards in their possession that had gripping political statements written on them. Not only were they celebrating who they were, but they were marching in solidarity with the peoples’ struggle. The demonstration by the LGBTIQ+ community was breath-taking and had on-lookers admiring the spectacle that was unfolding before their very eyes. Although the Sri Lankan LGBTIQ+ community has carried out Pride marches in previous years, this one stood out to be the most successful one yet as it is said to be the largest gathering the community has seen in a long time.
EQUAL GROUND has innovated and made this year’s Pride a lot more engaging and cheerful for everybody involved. These festivities are a testament to how creatively electrifying the Sri Lankan LGBTIQ+ community can be when fighting for rights, acceptance and equality, and they are having fun while doing so! However, this doesn’t denote the end of the cause, and we can’t wait to see what EQUAL GROUND has in store for the LGBTIQ+ community in next year’s Pride!