Indian filmmaker Sridhar Rangayan will be the Grand Marshal at Montreal Pride parade to be held on August 14, 2016. The Grand Marshals are individuals or organizations that have made significant contributions for the well-being of the LGBTQ community.
He will lead the pride parade with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Montreal Pride is an annual LGBTQ pride festival held in Montreal, Quebec.
“I am excited to fly the Indian tricolour along with the rainbow flag to underline that I am both Indian and gay – both my identities are a matter of pride for me…I am both humbled and honoured to be chosen to lead Montreal Pride as one of the Grand Marshals. It is indeed a great privilege and, as with any privilege, comes with responsibilities. I hope that I can amplify the struggles and victories of the Indian LGBT community, and seek global support in ensuring a free and equal society,” he said in a press release.
Sridhar is the founder and festival director of KASHISH Mumbai International Queer Film Festival, which is said to be South Asia’s biggest LGBTQ film fest. Through films, literature and other art forms, KASHISH has highlighted LGBTQ issues over the past seven editions of the festival. Earlier this year, Sridhar won the National Film Award for Best Editing for his film Breaking Free, which talks about the human rights violations faced by the Indian LGBT community due to the draconian law under Section 377. The movie documents real life testimonies of victims, along with those of lawyers and activists who have been fighting the law. It will also be screened in Toronto at The Royal Cinema on August 17.
Éric Pineault, founding president of Montreal Pride said that Sridhar is a pioneer in the advancement of rights for LGBTQ individuals in India.
Montreal pride attracts close to 500,000 local and international visitors. It will have more than 125 activities and events, like film screenings, musical performances, drag shows, etc. organized over a period of seven days, from August 8 to 14.
Gulabi Aaina (Pink Mirror), the first film by Sridhar that was made in 2003 and still remains banned in India, will be screened during the festival on August 10.
Recently, Breaking Free won the Barbara Gittings International Human Rights Award at the qFLIX Philadelphia film festival in USA.
“LGBT rights are human rights. The human rights award underlines this very basic truth, that somehow is not understood by our politicians, judges and the moral brigade…Gay, lesbian and transgender persons too need their right to live freely as citizens of this country without being criminalized by a law like Sec 377. They have a right to love and live with dignity. The law of the land denies that,” Sridhar said.