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A photo of the Pride Parade on June 17, 2024, shows participants marching down Queen Elizabeth Drive in Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka.

Pride Parade or Fools’ March?

Reading Time: 4 min

As a born-again Christian, I do not endorse the LGBTIQA+ ideology or related behaviours, but I want to clarify that this stance does not stem from a homophobic attitude. It’s important to distinguish between disagreeing with certain beliefs or lifestyles and harbouring irrational fear or hatred towards those who identify with them. However, this post is not intended to delve into my personal and religious views on the LGBT community; I will address those in my next post. In this post, I want to voice three factors that concern me, which I noticed during my encounter with the first “Pride Parade” in my hometown of Nuwara Eliya on June 16, 2024. I observed the parade closely and took the opportunity to conduct brief interviews with some of the organisers and participants. The insights I share here are based on my firsthand observations and conversations during the march. [Image: The Pride Parade marching through Queen Elizabeth Drive.]

Disclaimer: The publication of this post is not intended to promote LGBTQ ideology, encourage related behaviours, or condemn the LGBTQ community. It is solely an expression of my observations.

Devil-may-care attitude Organizers

I noticed that the police presence at this pride parade was relatively small compared to other parades I’ve seen, probably because the crowd had dropped from 200+ to less than 100 people. Therefore I felt the security provided was adequate. My main concern however was the safety of the participants after the parade ended. Many people were taking photos and videos without asking for consent, unlike me who sought permission from the organizers before photographing the event. Out of curiosity, I asked a representative from Équité Sri Lanka, the parade organizers, what measures were in place to ensure participants wouldn’t face harassment after the event. His response was something like, “The parade has police protection, and the participants have obtained consent from their families.”

Assuming he misunderstood my question, I rephrased it, but his answer remained the same. (යන්නෙ කොහෙද? මල්ලෙ පොල්! – folksy Sinhalese way of referring to a non sequitur, Q – Where are you going? A – Coconuts in the Bag!) “This Devil-may-care attitude” from the organizers worries me. Whether or not participants have their families’ consent, there’s no guarantee they won’t face harassment from neighbours or discrimination at work and school—issues that Équité Sri Lanka seems to have overlooked. Organizing a pride parade in a small town like Nuwara Eliya isn’t particularly difficult, but the potential consequences for participants might be hard to manage.

Letting the Children Play with Fire

I couldn’t help but notice that towards the end of the parade, there were children as young as 9 years old present. The ethical grounds for involving children in an event that I consider morally questionable is a topic that warrants a separate discussion. What troubled me the most was their presence at an event saturated with a sensual atmosphere, which could potentially attract sexual predators and paedophiles. One might argue that sexual offenders could be present at any large gathering, and this is a valid point. However, the nature of a pride parade, with its focus on expressions of human sexuality and identity, may unfortunately increase such risks.

Given these heightened risks, I was particularly concerned about the lack of specific measures to protect the children. I didn’t observe any efforts by the organizers to ensure the children’s safety in this context. By allowing the children to be present without adequate protection, it felt as though the organizers were letting the children play with fire. They were exposed to potential dangers without sufficient safeguards in place. The responsibility of the organizers should extend beyond merely facilitating the event to ensuring the safety and well-being of all participants, especially vulnerable ones like children. This oversight on their part is deeply concerning and suggests a need for more stringent measures to protect minors in such environments in the future.

A Go Along to Get Along Attitude

Judging by the body language of some participants in the parade, it was obvious that their presence was not driven by an understanding of the event. Instead, it seemed that many were there simply because they wanted to “Go Along to Get Along.” This fact was apparent through various signs: some participants appeared hesitant, avoiding eye contact and displaying closed-off postures, such as crossed arms or fidgeting hands. Others seemed to be following the crowd without enthusiasm, their movements lacking the excitement and energy of those who were genuinely engaged. This “Go Along to Get Along” attitude, where individuals participate merely to fit in or to avoid conflict, can be quite problematic for several reasons.

Compromise of Personal Values: This attitude often requires individuals to suppress their own beliefs, values, or opinions to avoid conflict or to fit in. Over time, this can lead to a sense of dissatisfaction and a loss of personal integrity.

Enabling Negative Behavior: By not standing up against unethical or harmful behaviour, individuals may inadvertently enable or perpetuate such actions. This can lead to a toxic environment where bad behaviour goes unchecked.

Lack of Progress: Social and organizational progress often requires challenging the status quo. If everyone adopts a “Go Along to Get Along” mindset, necessary changes and improvements may never occur. Innovation and growth often stem from healthy debate and differing perspectives.

Erosion of Authentic Relationships: Relationships built on compliance rather than genuine understanding and mutual respect can be shallow and fragile. Authentic connections require honesty and sometimes difficult conversations.

Undermining Leadership: In leadership roles, adopting this attitude can result in poor decision-making and a lack of direction. Effective leaders need to be able to make tough decisions, even if they are unpopular, to steer their team or organization towards success.

Internal Conflict: Constantly suppressing one’s own needs and desires can lead to internal conflict, stress, and mental health issues. Personal well-being needs to express oneself and pursue one’s own goals and values.

The “Go Along to Get Along” attitude embraced by our ancestors has deeply influenced our nation today, causing widespread issues in education, workplaces, social interactions, and politics. It discourages innovation in education, stifles creativity at work, and pressures conformity in social life, leading to a lack of authenticity and personal satisfaction. Politically, it delays reforms and avoids challenging norms, prioritizing short-term harmony over long-term progress. This culture of compliance hampers individual growth, organizational innovation, and national adaptation to new challenges, hindering overall development despite initially promoting peace and stability.

Wrap Up

In conclusion, my observations at Nuwara Eliya’s Pride Parade raise significant concerns about organizational practices and societal implications. The organizers’ seemingly lax approach, evident in insufficient security measures and a disregard for potential risks, particularly with minors present, highlights a critical oversight in participant safety and event management making it more of a fools’ march than a pride parade! This reflects a broader societal trend where conformity often supersedes genuine engagement or critical discourse, hindering both individual growth and collective progress. Moving forward, addressing these concerns necessitates a balanced approach that respects individual rights while prioritizing comprehensive safety protocols and fostering an environment of open dialogue and mutual respect. Organizers (Équité Sri Lanka) and participants must uphold standards that promote safety measures and ensure the well-being of all involved, creating a safer environment.

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