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Pride MontFashion takes the centrestage for LGBTQIA+ community at Chennai’s Pride parade

Although everyone from the city tends to defend Chennai’s eternal summer, we have no choice but to admit some truths. It is harder for make up to stay on as sweat is a vexing consequence. Black is a bold choice on a humid day, and anything other than cotton might seem foolhardy. But when fashion is the name of the game, these rules are meant to be bent.

Egmore’s streets transformed into a runway at the 16th edition of Chennai’s annual Self-Respect Rainbow Pride March on June 30. Black bodycon dresses, metallic bomber jackets, ornate turbans, sequins and intricate make up in all shades of the rainbow, stood out against the backdrop of the Cooum River, near the site of the march.

Wings, capes, flags and hand fans were other prominent accessories. Participants who travelled from different parts of the country to be part of the march, said that most were executing specific Do-It-Yourself (DIY) visions for their looks.

This meant that most looks were put together with bits and bobs of various elements including belts, earrings, chains, and paint and tailoring on clothes. Being in a crowd that rejoiced in self-expression helped ease the nerves, they said.

Scarlet as a futuristic queer person
Scarlet as a futuristic queer person | Photo Credit: Thamodharan B

Aishu Ajith from Thiruvananthapuram said that they were channelling their inner Aishwarya Rai. Dressed in a velvet red headscarf and a long black gown that trailed through the streets, they struck a pose for every moving camera. Another black dress that caught our attention was that of Rakesh’s.

“Pride is a once-a-year event. Coming out in a jeans and T-shirt does not define me. This is why I am wearing a black bodycon that I ordered online, with an addition of a rainbow pattern made out of satin. It cost me a little extra but it was worth it. I got the idea from Pinterest,” he said.

Shahid on the other hand, who did not want to reveal his identity, decided to decorate his mask with orange feathers, similar to that of the Brazilian headdress seen in carnivals. He added that all the materials were purchased from shops in Pondy Bazar.

“The truth is, I am a gay man. My family might not be okay with it but I have to account for my happiness. I am not showing my face today but I assure you, I am happy,” he said.

The couture game peaked when Scarlet* explained their outfit — a metallic bomber jacket, metal purse, silver glasses, thunder-like ear cuffs centred around a rainbow heart. “I am a futuristic queer person who has gone through the trials of life and got to a point where I am accepted and happy. I want to represent the future where all these feelings are possible,” he said.

Shobika's rainbow makeup
Shobika’s rainbow makeup | Photo Credit: Thamodharan B

Besides clothing and accessories, another key area of ​​attempting new trends was make up. Shobika, for instance, spent two hours glueing sequins in the colour of the rainbow. She added that she coloured her hair especially for pride.

Cheeks saw rainbow paint, the eyes saw colourful liners and eyeshadows, and lips saw vibrant tints. Harnesses, crowns and painted clothes were other popular trends at the march.

Scarlett, Shahid, Aishu and Rakesh said that although they quickly got ready for pride, it took them at least one month to put their looks together. “We do not have the time, space or freedom to engage with tailors or experiment with our make up unlike cis-gender people. A lot of it is still done under the wraps.

Although there are futuristic elements, my favorite part of my outfit is the rainbow heart. Homophobia and queerphobia exists and our struggle never ends, but today, we get to be ourselves”.

David Dass
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