Rainbow flags are flying higher than ever as June 2019 commemorates 50 years of the LGBTQI+ community celebrating gay pride after the June 1969 Stonewall Riots in New York.
This month is one out of the twelve in a year that is used to bolster acceptance across the LGBTQI+ community as we begin to reflect on the implications that this community has had on the world, and vice versa. It is a time where lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people can advocate for their own self-affirmation, dignity, and equality in rights. Along with developing all these actions which take a tremendous amount of courage, there is an attempt to increase the visibility of the community as not only a group but as individual human people, celebrating sexual diversity and gender variance.
I’m a proud member of such a community, where I am surrounded by supportive, accepting and loving individuals who have not only moulded me into the man I am today, but made me feel confident in my own skin.
However, as a gay dude who doesn’t really engage in all the festivities of pride and celebrating my sexuality in general, I feel as though the concept of pride is somewhat lost in me in a physical sense. Don’t get me wrong, I love what pride is in its essence as it stands for and represents, in my own opinion, a big ‘fuck you’ to every bigoted, homophobic individual. These people who stripped away my ancestors rights 50 years ago sparked a revolution that triggered the conception of expressing pride for our identities. In reflecting on Pride Month, I find myself, again and again, struggling to express my sexuality physically among other gay people due to the fear of judgement from others over my appearance, gayness (if that’s even a word) and individual personality. I’ve got very few LGBTQI+ friends and I have never really been a part of the scene that is so rampant and robust in cities such as Sydney and areas like Newton and Oxford street. A little voice inside me still says it’s not safe to come out of my little hideaway and safe space of my home. I partially believed that this mentality is deeply ingrained in me, that I defy the norm and because of that I struggle to share as much as other people do. Every day is a step towards non-conformity and individualism; I might just be a little dimmer than others who are already shining.
Not only is Pride Month a symbolic recognition of LGBT history, it is a representation of the progress that we have made as a community so far. It is the culmination of the actions of many LGBTQI+ spokespeople and advocates in creating a more accepting environment for youth growing up, without having the pressures and stigma that would have been attached to them in the past. I salute, thank, and (will) death drop for all of these crusaders who have made the world a more accepting place for individuals like myself so that we can express ourselves more freely, even if my engagement with this month may not be to the extent that others may go to. I’m so bloody glad to share my journey with so many other people in this community.
I wouldn’t be able to express all my thoughts about Pride Month without addressing ‘straight pride’. Coming from a place of inclusivity, the entire concoction and entity of this concept is bred of hate, ignorance and bigotry that I find hard to navigate. This month, however accepting and loving its intentions are, does breed hate for our community.
We are no longer one cog in a machine with the same specifications. The production line has been severed by individuals who enforce and promote change within our community. This is the kind of pride that I feel for my community; celebrating the people who have done so much for us to break down the stigma of being different and celebrating these differences.
For this month, I hope people in my community can stay safe and celebrate. Even if I don’t, they should have the opportunity to express who they are to the world, free of judgement and free of fear for their own identity.