Identity does not exist in vacuum, and at any 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, 7 July, 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 a rainbow to represent the diversity of our community.Organisers
Explaining how the rainbow flag has been adapted across the world, Queer Chennai Chronicles pointed out that the LGBTQ community in South Africa 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 under-represented, 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, religious identity and Leftist ideologies within the spectrum of social justice.
As Queer Chennai Chronicles co-founder Moulee says, we designed a flag for the pride march which took place last week. It is the rainbow flag with the image of Dr Ambedkar and Periyar. At the march, another person came to us with a poster which said we cannot talk gender without talking about caste. When she saw our flag, she said that she felt she was in the right place.LJ Violet, Organiser of the LitFest, to The News Minute
“So 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,” Voilet added.
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.
Calling on the queer community to introspect on privilege amongst its members, the flag also stands as a symbol of self-respect and dignity.
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 of the queer community and include more queer justice in the social justice that they already speak about.LJ Violet
(This story was published in an arrangement with The News Minute.)