CHICAGO — A group that supports queer South Asians plans to be in the Pride Parade this year — but it needs help.
Trikone Chicago has provided resources to LGBTQ South Asians, hosted events and more for more than a decade. But the members have never been able to have a float for Pride, so they are fundraising to afford the float of their dreams and bring more awareness to their work at the June 26 parade.
The group’s online fundraiser has raised about $1,800 so far toward its $5,000 goal. The funds will go toward renting the float, paying the fee to enter the parade, decorations, water and snacks for those marching with Trikone, according to the GoFundMe. You can donate online.
Masala Sapphire, one of Trikone’s board members, said Pride can provide an opportunity for people who don’t know about Trikone to learn about the group, and “they can come to a potluck or to one of our dance parties and meet more people.”
Sapphire, board member Abhijeet and other members plan to intricately decorate their float with a Bollywood theme.
Parade-goers can see “there are all these bars at the parade and all these different organizations” celebrating the LGBTQ+ community, Sapphire said. “But when you hear your music being played, and there’s Bollywood performances and queens in Bollywood and different types of Asian outfits — it just feels more special to the South Asian community.”
Sapphire said it’s important to have South Asian culture represented within the LGBTQ+ community in general, and Pride is an opportunity to provide that.
Trikone participated in the 2019 Pride Parade with a trolley and more than 40 marchers, with its group members dancing and cheering to Bollywood music.
“You don’t see a lot of Asian queer representation on TV and stuff like that — it doesn’t happen very often,” Sapphire said. And when you do, “it’s usually a cis-gendered gay male. That’s only a small portion of the queer community.
“When it’s someone who looks like you and who has had the same struggles you’ve had, it makes a much bigger difference and it’s a more personal experience.”
The members also hope getting a float in the parade will allow more people to learn about Trikone’s work. The group has long held book clubs, potlucks and other events where members could connect and talk about their experiences.
“Trikone is all about creating a family outside of your own family,” Sapphire said. “It’s a safe space for queer South Asians [to] make friends and find more like-minded people.”
Abhijeet said connecting to Masala and Trikone’s members helped them “form a new community” in Chicago.
“It’s so important to be connected with people from your culture and from your diaspora,” Abhijeet said. “It’s very comforting to know that there are spaces where you can reference a part of your culture without ever having to explain it.”
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