OPINION: You have every right to be proud of being gay.

Yesterday, an op-ed did the rounds of some pretty prominent news platforms.

It ran with the headline ‘I’m not proud to be gay’, and attempted to make a case against the Mardi Gras festival, and all that it stands for.

But there are a few words I’d like to say to counter. Because pride is something I spent a long time trying to find, and pride is something that you absolutely should be celebrating.

This is not meant as an attack on that piece of writing. Opinions are opinions for that reason – and each of us are entitled to our own.

If you don’t want to participate in the festival, that is completely up to you. But to sit there and label it as something that is inherently damaging to our community is not fair. It’s completely and utterly wrong.

It’s easy to forget in this post-Glee-and-Modern-Family world, that we’re the lucky ones. Our generation, I mean. It’s those that came before us that who fought the battle against prejudice. They lived at a time when the simple act of being intimate with the one you loved was a mailable offence. When homophobia was not just existing, it was expected; encouraged.

So to be able to express themselves so passionately on a night when the world’s eyes look upon Sydney is a very special thing, and it’s fucking important.

It’s been nearly five years since I came out now – and I often find myself marvelling at how smooth my journey has been. There wasn’t really any issue. I’ve held boyfriends’ hands walking down streets, I’ve been encouraged to be myself by those closest to me. We owe the generations before us for that. That can never be forgotten.

Yes, being gay has been normalised quite a lot, but there is still a long way to go. Mardi Gras is a celebration of accepting diversity and promoting equality in love.

Source: mardigras.org.au

Source: mardigras.org.au

Mardi Gras is an umbrella. It’s a fabulous melting pot of light, love and culture that gets to be thrown open once a year. After everything the world has put us through, we deserve it.

So if the LGBTQI community want to strip down and glitter up once a year? That’s alright. If you have an issue with the image? That’s your own problem. Don’t try to pin it on a majority. Every year, record crowds flock to the parade, and big businesses have thrown their support behind its cause.

Plain and simple – it’s a celebration of who we are. It’s our moment in the spotlight. If anyone deserves their time to shine, it’s us.

I’m proud of who I am. And you should be too.

Feature Image: Wikimedia Commons

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