2020 has been a rough year all around and with strict social distancing measures in place, EQUAL GROUND had to get imaginative with Colombo PRIDE celebrations this year. For the first time in our 16 year history, Colombo PRIDE went virtual! Many components of Colombo PRIDE, such as the Rainbow Music and Dance Festival and the Abhimani Film Festival, were celebrated virtually, on social media platforms. Other innovative events were also added to the line-up to make things interactive and interesting, while encouraging participation in many novel ways.
As EQUAL GROUND Founder and Executive Director, Rosanna Flamer-Caldera said, “It was a tough decision to postpone Colombo PRIDE for the first time in 16 years, but thanks to the support we received from the US Embassy in Colombo, we were able to take Colombo PRIDE virtual this year. The overwhelming participation it received was so encouraging.”
Colombo PRIDE has always been about encouraging and inspiring the Queer community to come out and be proud, while celebrating diverse identities and voices. Despite the many challenges we had to face, 2020 was no different. The theme this year was ‘Empower and Unchain’ (with knowledge and encouragement comes liberation and freedom).
Being forced to go virtual allowed EQUAL GROUND and Colombo PRIDE to reach an unprecedented audience. With our line-up of online events, we were able to engage with the Queer community across the island. As a result, a large number of LGBTIQ persons in Sri Lanka got to know about our organisation and its pioneering work. Thanks to wider online participation, we were also able to carry out discussions with more allies and grow our network of supporters.
One of the elements of this year’s virtual edition of Colombo PRIDE was a series of talks with Queer celebrities and LGBTIQ community members, on Instagram Live.
The Let’s Talk On Social Media series focused on a range of topics affecting Queer individuals and the LGBTIQ community as a whole, as well as more light-hearted conversations with individuals who are known celebrities in Sri Lanka and who also happen to be from our community. This was to also show that we can all aspire to be whatever we want to be, despite being marginalised due to our Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity and/or Expression.
Let’s Talk was unique in that it was conducted in all 3 languages – English, Sinhala and Tamil.
For the English interviews, Rosanna Flamer-Caldera (Executive Director EQUAL GROUND and Director Colombo PRIDE) spoke to Brandon Ingram (Actor, Author, Singer and Songwriter), Nimmi Harasgama (Film and Theatre Actor, Writer and Social Media influencer), Hemalallindre Ranawake (Koluu) (Celebrity Chef), and Yazmin Yousuf (Radio personality, Co-Founder of decibel.lk).
The Sinhala interviews were conducted by Kaushal Ranasinghe (Journalist and Prep Talks Convener) with Bhoomi Harendran (Executive Director of the National Transgender Network Sri Lanka), GaaPink or Gayan Ratnayake (Queer Artist), Thashi Jayaweera (Singer/Song Writer), and Tharindi Devasurendra (Human Rights Activists and SRHR Trainer).
The Tamil interviews were conducted by Bhoomi Harendran with Angel Queentus (Founder of Jaffna Transgender Network, LGBTIQ+ Rights Activist), Thenmoli Magrette (Human Rights Activist from the Tamil Speaking LGBTIQ community), and Appathurei Mary (Businesswoman and LGBTIQ Activist). The videos on Instagram garnered hundreds of views and comments that have since sparked spirited discussions on pertinent issues facing the Queer community.