The Rebirth of Pride
In the recent past, I was fortunate enough to attend my first Pride, and it is a moment I won’t forget anytime soon — it really was everything I’d heard and more and, maybe in some way, the culmination of many years of struggling with my own identity and trying to find a place of acceptance and understanding within myself. Though as much as it has been an internal struggle, it’s also been an external one — one that has yearned for validation and acceptance in everyday life, amongst my friends and peers, my workplaces and crowds, and most importantly, my Indian family.
At its core, Pride celebrates all things diverse, a theme that has always been core to the LGBT community, and that lives vicariously through Pride all around the world — colourful, celebratory and cultural. It’s an event that the LGBT community is proud of (& should be) and allows them to share everything they stand for alongside thousands of spectators, whether that be their friends and family, local communities and organisations — because this audience & these spectators are core to the movement. They have decided to come and celebrate alongside the LGBT community, to not only support and cheer on our identities and fight for equality but also by extension, our struggles and victories, our past and future. This crowd gives us meaning to keep fighting when the going gets tough and validates that what we are doing is the right thing.
And not only for the colour and creativity but to celebrate the victories, the harder and darker times and the desire to see change —
And it was this, seeing those in my city come out and celebrate, to congratulate and stand in an ode to those who have fought, are fighting and will fight for the causes the LGBT community represent. It was a surreal, powerful & emotive feeling, one that almost forces you to live in the moment and celebrate the good things; to not sweat the small stuff too much~
Although it was short-lived and in my excitement and vigour for the parade,
I drank too much too quickly leaving me with a heavy hangover the next day, it’s a moment I will relish for a good time to come and the first one of many.
Alas, a few days after Pride, the honeymoon period started wearing off (and as a friend aptly put it “the contact high”) of the celebrations faded away, you’re left to ponder it at a deeper level, asking ourselves what’s next; & why we’re still walking.
But there’s plenty to walk for. The battle is not yet won, and it’s these little wins that are the foundation of the many challenges still faced by many LGBT individuals, within the LGBT community itself and around the world.
I’m privileged and lucky to live in a country that last year, passed marriage equality for same-sex couples, after a plebiscite (public vote) put public support for the LGBT community and same-sex marriage at a majority — the validation that your diversity is celebrated and accepted by the people whom you share your country with, is in itself, a poignant feeling and a revitalisation of the faith that what the community has fought for is worth it.
But alas, my identity is not just Australian, for the heritage and culture of my ancestors is a core part of my identity and who I am, and something I am so proud to be part of.
The LGBT community in this part of the world is only starting to see its freedoms, with India slowly but surely waking up to acceptance, support and understanding. And even this is localised to major cities in India, with many rural and agriculture areas still seeing homosexuality (in its many forms) as a disgrace to society, a stigma of the worst kind, a taboo, a disorder.
In September the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code is unconstitutional as it infringes on the fundamental rights of autonomy, intimacy and identity, thus legalising homosexuality for the first time in Modern India — a law that’s a remnant of India’s colonial past (This is important, as Ancient India was very pro LGBT, rarely casting aspersions on homosexuality and lesbianism; & also Kama Sutra, Indians are bloody saucy).
This victory is the start of a very long road, where the challenges faced by LGBT identifying individuals still surround those of acceptance and understanding, and where the concept of same-sex marriage is just a far & distant dream. Personally, I still consider this phenomenal progress, as it allows the community to start laying the groundwork of the movement, freely and without persecution — it also means that acceptance, understanding and a push for quality are spreading, albeit very very slowly.
Alas, even this is a reality that won’t come in the lifetimes of many who live in countries, whereby the label of being gay is synonymous with violence, harassment, exclusion, hate, retribution and in some places, death.
This dark reality is aptly captured by a few recent quotes, taken from a speech made by a head of government;
“animal-like” & “a mental disorder that needs to be dealt with”
“hunt down gay people and those who defend them”
I don’t want this to turn into a piece where I say that we haven’t done our dues as there’s still so much persecution and rejection of the LGBT community around the world — in the same vein of asking we should live such good lives, with our daily wants and needs satisfied, access to the best of life’s offerings, if so many go to sleep hungry and fight for basic necessities every day;
But to just paint the picture of the struggles of the LGBT community elsewhere, who face their own set of struggles, to open your mind & plant the thought that the fight is not over. That everytime you take a moment to reflect on your own journey, proud of the obstacles you’ve faced, looking back at the difficult years where you battled internally with self-acceptance and the many moments you will stand, loud and proud, with your partner by your side — to remember that the LGBT still has a lot of work to do, not just for injustices inside its own community, but for those around the world.
It’s a good reminder that aims to work both ways — to remind us that the war has just begun but also to appreciate that you don’t have to hide your identity.