The glitter, the parade floats, the to-die-for hair and makeup, the sparkly costumes — Mardi Gras is certainly a cultural event on the global calendar, but is it more of a spectacle than a celebration of the LGBTI community?
Gavin Fernando is a self-confessed Madonna fan and a gay man who first came out of the closet when he was 12. But is he proud of being gay? Not quite.
“I’m not proud to be gay,” he says in a piece he wrote for News Ltd. “Believe me, I’m not ashamed either. I just don’t understand Mardi Gras — the almighty gay pride parade.”
It’s not the celebration that he doesn’t get, it’s not the message of social equality and equal opportunity and respect, it’s just that he thinks that message gets lost among the glitter, the Spandex, the butt cracks and the drugs.
Why does the blatant display of sexuality have to be linked to sexual orientation, he muses, failing to see the link between hot pants and political statements.
“I don’t understand the undeniable fact that sex — glorious as it is — is everywhere you look, walk and breathe,” Fernando says.
Don’t get him wrong, though, he’s not ashamed of his sexuality, not in the least, but it doesn’t define him; his sexuality is such a small part of his identity that it’s hardly worth a mention.
“My sexual orientation is so unremarkable — so batshit boring — that my idea of gay rights is holding hands with my boyfriend and walking down the street without anybody so much as raising an eyelid.”
And that is where the real celebration of the LBGTI community lies for Fernando, not merely in brightly coloured floats and glitter-filled celebrations, but in walking down the street and not being seen as different.
“Because being gay is not my most defining feature. It’s downright ordinary. And that, right there, is equality.”
Kara, a conservation worker from the Sunshine Coast, says the Mardi Gras is an important event on the social calendar because it is a testament to both LGBTI and straight communities, showing their mutual support for each other and interconnectedness.
“I definitely do not think we should rethink gay pride,” Kara says. “The Mardi Gras does not just do the LGBTI community justice but also the straight community justice as it’s the single most important event we have [together]. I have the same amount of straight friends who support and participate in the Mardi Gras as I do gay friends.
“When I was younger, I was very out and proud, attending every Pride Fest in Musgrave Park and the annual Gay Day at the Wickham. As I’ve grown older, I’ve moved away from the scene, but I’m still very much gay and proud.
“For some people these events are all they have,” she says.
What do you think? Do we need to rethink Mardi Gras and gay pride? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
More on current events
Sydney surgeon urges women not to report sexual abuse at work
Anti-marriage-equality ad aired during Sydney Mardi Gras causes anger
Will My School improve our education system?