Happy Mardi Gras-Versary


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Happy Mardi Gras Anniversary! For those that do not know Mardis Gras is a gay pride parade held every year in Oxford Street in Sydney. The last couple of years the parade has come under scrutiny for promoting sex and promiscuous lifestyle over actual gay rights. While these arguments do hold some merit, there are a couple of floats of perfect ab, slim, toned barely dressed boys waving feather boas and donning leather caps, it is not all about this.

I was fortunate enough to march in a marriage equality float a couple of years ago and you may recall my blogpost about this. It was the most invigorating and brave thing I have ever done and I will never forget it as long as I live. I do want to do it again I just need a few years to pluck up that courage again!

That being said here is the reason I am writing today, 35 years ago today, around 10pm on Saturday 24 June 1978, several hundred gays, lesbians and straight supporters – some in fancy dress and some simply rugged up against the cold – gathered at Taylor Square and followed a truck with a small music and sound system down Oxford Street to Hyde Park.

Little did those witnessing and partaking in the march know, this was to be the start of Mardi Gras, and would become a defining moment in the country’s gay rights history.

Today, 35 years later, we honour the bravery and passion of our pioneers, as we continue the journey which they began. Back at the time of the march it was all about equal rights for homosexuals, something that a lot of young people today take too much for granted.

Looking at our society now, we are fighting for equal marriage rights in this country, something that with our current prime minister seems like it will be a long time off. Is it something that we can simply request and it happens? No

It is something that we can write letters, campaigns, build our community and march for? Hell yes we can! It baffles me completely why more is not being done to further the cause. So far the only thing close to resembling this is the Rainbow Crossing movement, and I don’t think I have to explain my feelings about that fiasco.

We are living in one of the most privilged and bountiful countries on the planet and it may seem a little selfish and egotistical to fight for equal marriage rights when comparing our problems to anyone else’s, but it does stand to reason that we should do more. As homosexuals we have become stereotyped by the media, forced to become comic relief rather than strong characters in society.

Before I keep drifting off topic here I wanted to pay homage to these trailblazers, these heroes who stood up so bravely in a society of hate and intolerance. We can never understand or fathom how hard this would have been. Being openly bashed and abused by the police, the very people who we are led to believe are there to protect us still baffles my brain and I thank them from the bottom of my heart for setting a shining example.

One of the most horrific stories is that of Peter Murphy who recently did an interview with news.com.au about what happened to him that very first parade.

““They took me along a long corridor in the police station through a U-shaped route into a room and then just beat the hell out of me,” Mr Murphy told NEWS.com.au as part of our 30th anniversary Mardi Gras special.

“There were two police officers who did that – one in particular – bashing me with their fists in the head and saying ‘you’re not so smart now are you’.”

Mr Murphy said he was beaten solidly until a blow to the solar plexus floored him. He was thrown into a solitary cell where he could hear protesters gathered outside chanting his name.

“They tried to break my leg but fortunately the bones didn’t snap,” he said. “I was (literally) pissing my pants.”

I have never experienced anything like this and hope to never have to. As the brave men marched down Oxford Street and reached Darlinghurst Road where a police blockade was waiting for them and arrested 53 and were charged for being in an illegal procession, hindering police and resisting arrest.

When I marched in Mardis Gras I was not feeling threatened by the police, in fact they actually helped me when I fell over to get me off the road (teach me to try and walk in heels!)

Thank you from the bottom of my heart to Mr Murphy and all the other brave pioneers who took a chance and walked Oxford Street with their heads held high, prepared to fight for what is right. Every year I try and reflect on this day what I can do to help my community and I hope that a post like this gets shared around for others to read and do the same. No matter where you are today, if you are reading this stop for a few minutes to thank these brave soldiers who will march on forever in our hearts.

Happy 35th Anniversary!

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The future of Mardi Gras


Today this video appeared in my news feed on Facebook and I was compelled to watch it, the recent change to the Mardi Gras name and parade are quite concerning to me. The parade started in 1978 on Saturday the 24th of June and consisted of a few hundred brave gay men and women marching behind a small truck with music playing. The march was met with unexpected police violence and confiscated telegrams of support and the lead truck and its driver, protestors of 1500 marched up William Street to Darlinghurst Road and 53 arrests were made on this day, many of whom were beaten in their cells. Over the next few months more protests and arrests took place and the actions of the police were well publicised.

By April in 1979 the parliament of New South Wales repealed the NSW Summary Offences Act legislation that had allowed the arrests to be made and created a new Public Assemblies Act which meant that Sydneysiders no longer had to apply for a permit to have a demonstration. They simply needed to inform the police. As such that first Mardi Gras march was a major civil rights milestone beyond the gay community. It is from this that we can look at Mardis Gras being much more than a sex, drug and alcohol indulgence day and go beyond that and take it back to were it used to be historically and politically important. (Source http://www.mardigras.org.au/about-us/history/index.cfm)

Do not get me wrong dancing along side a float this year was by far the best thing I have ever done in my life and one of the most fun but to have it move beyond the dancing, the glitter and the short shorts to actually doing something about progressing towards our rights to get married, adopt children and be seen as equals in the community is what our generation needs to do to make a difference in the fight for equality. I for one am willing to stand up and fight for this along side anyone else who agrees with the cause and not stop until it happens.

Whilst we can never understand or comprehend the bravery and boldness of the Mardis Gras fathers who were openly abused and beaten for their cause we can offer them our thanks and gratitude and carry on the tradition of fighting for equal rights which would mean a lot more than covering ourselves in fake tan and dancing in a cage on a truck full of lights. As a generation we are seen as the “party” generation who do that and nothing else, is this how we want to be known, or do we want to fight for equal rights, for gay marriage and a no hate society where the choice of marrying your partner regardless of gender is accepted and celebrated as all marriages should be.

 

 

Everyday Hero


One of my good friends Chrissy is doing an amazing thing, she is doing the “City 2 Surf” that is being used to raise money for ASCA – Adults Surviving Child Abuse. When you think of child abuse you think of beat up children who have black eyes and nowhere to go and have generally have a horrible up bringing due to alcohol or drug affected parents. Not all child abuse is this general it is emotional abuse, physical abuse, mental abuse and anything that hurts and effects the life of a child. It truly is one of the most horrific things especially in Australia. I myself am a survivor of child abuse, my dad was extremely abusive both physically and mentally. He could not control his temper and when he lost it, he lost it. He didn’t like that fact that I was different from everyone else and wasn’t the son he wanted. This was no excuse for the horrible childhood I had while he was living there and I believe this is a strong root for my self esteem issues that still exist today.

I have pledged to give donate $30 from each pay to Chrissy and cut back on my coffee while also helping me health wise it will also do more for child abuse survivors across the country. I challenge you to do the same. Please visit the link below and support Chrissy and her efforts. She is a beautiful person who has an amazing heart and I am so proud that she is doing this and raising money for this cause. Visit http://www.fundraise.city2surf.com.au/chrissy_perkins and donate as much as you can. Let’s build a better world!

Motivation


Before I start no I am not referring to the abominable Kelly Rowland song *shudder* The last couple of weeks in my uni classes I have been feeling incredibly unmotivated, doing classes I have no interest in, being marked on things that I just honestly do not care about. I found this also took a toll on my writing, being in a “professional writing class” and receiving just pass marks is quite disorientating.

I haven’t written much this week and I know this is the reason. Yesterday I sat down and thought about what I really want out of life and what am I doing to change things instead of complaining all the time.

I am changing degrees pending my acceptance next semester. Tomorrow I go back to work a place where I feel unappreciated and know there are people out to get me, so the choice I have to make is to remain positive, keep my head up and keep going.

My motivation is knowing that one day somebody somewhere will love what I write and my career will begin, till then I have to work head and keep my head down and know that this is my motivation.

 

Pray Day 3…


Day Three of my “body revolutionising simple living” challenge and so far I’m not loving it. Having to reduce the amount of food you eat is an incredibly hard task. Especially when the scent of coffee, crossaints and delicious food is wafting through your nostrils all morning. I’m trying to be good with my mint green tea and fruit, and honestly it is as boring as it sounds.

I have been waking up every morning an hour earlier to clear my mind and meditate…I admit I did this the first day and then went back to sleep after ten minutes. I hope this will improve over time, we will see.

I didn’t realise that in a world of fast food and luxury how hardi t would be to rope it back and live simply. At lunch today I went with a friend to Bakers Delight where she purchased a delicious cheese mini pizza and I resisted. I feel this is probably the biggest accomplishment I have made in my life in a long time.

This afternoon I head off on my running with my trainer and honestly I’m really not looking forward to it. I know my body is going to be screaming out to not do it but I must pursue it.

Please pray for me I really don’t know how much longer I can do this without losing my sanity!

Out & Proud


As I strapped on my six inch heels, folding the strap over the heel of my foot and buckling the clasp together I was filled with a sense of sheer terror, it was Mardi Gras time in 2011 and it was going to be my first time ever and I was going in the parade. My stocking in a can was applied with vigour and as I smoothed the liquid over my freshly shaven legs a tiny bead of sweat dripped off my forehead causing a large blotch on my knee, as it dripped down causing a streaky effect I realised just how big this moment was and was I actually prepared to walk through Haymarket, across George and onto Oxford Street in full drag and march in the parade.

My blonde wig, freshly purchased glided onto my head with ease and the final touches of make-up where applied I stuck with the “less is more” rule for today knowing that most other drag queens would be over the top today, I decided to slide on a pair of sunglasses for the walk so the public could not see the sheer terror looming behind my eyes. My first steps outside the hotel and the heels where clomping along perfectly, as I “Amanded” my way down the street with my bestie in tow we where met with glares of surprise, comments of “wow they look fabulous” and mostly just not noticed. This is Sydney and it takes alot to phase people, or so I thought. . .

We arrived at Hyde Park and the terror turned to fright, what if my dress came loose? What if my wig falls off?  and worst of all what if my make up runs? All these questions where buzzing through my mind, what if by some off chance my parents are watching Foxtel and they happen to turn on Arena and see me? Why was I so concerned about this? My family have never been accepting of me, as traditional christians they believe its a “sin” and a “choice” and will not believe any different. As I stood in line at our float sipping water preparing for what was to come, I thought about my family and the look of disgust on my mother’s face if she ever saw me dressed like this. As a group of shirtless water polo players walked by I had a sudden change of though, I am in my late 20’s, I have a fabulous life with amazing friends, I’m working towards a degree and career doing something I love and have a stable job to support myself. Why shouldn’t my parents be proud?

The row of floats next to us started moving (two and a half hours later!) and the excitement amongst out crowd was building, as we watched the floats go by I noticed that alot of asian countries where it is illegal and in most cases your family officially disowns you walked right by me with flamboyant costumes proudly announcing their sexuality I was humbled. Alot of focus of the parade this year was on same sex marriage, alot of people in this country feel very strongly about it and compare us to racial minorities to push the agenda, I must say I do not agree with this stance, these people are disowned by their family, cast out for being who they where born to be (no its NOT a Lady GaGa reference!) This filled me with a new sense of vigour and pride that I don’t think I have ever felt about who I am before.

It was time to get moving, the float moved up the street and as we danced, walked, strutted and paraded around the float the support from the massive crowd was amazing. I have never felt so lifted and positive in my whole life about anything. As we passed several friends who greeted us with hugs and cheered us on it was comforting to know that even though your family don’t support you, there is a greater family who do.

As our marching came to an end, I peeled the heels off of my feet, blisters and cuts all over them it dawned on me that my feet where alot like my life, I had travelled a quarter of the way with a few blisters and cuts along the way but I am still here, I have my life on track and I am proud of who I am. At the time I wanted to call my parents and reaffirm the fact that they have a proud, fabulous gay son who is not ashamed to be who he really is, a better way is to live my life by example, no prejudice and no intolerance.

The night came to an end after a long and weary walk back to our hotel, we veered around the corner, front door in sight we all breathed a sigh of relief when down the road a car skidded to a stop in front of us “F*%&ing poofters!” yelled a Lebanese voice, after a slight moment of silence as I was too weary to scream out a bitchy reply a group of lesbians sitting outside the hotel stood up came to my defense “Love you, one day you will understand!” and screams of love and support where carried out I realised that we are in an age of love, like the sixties you don’t fight ignorance with bitchiness, you fight ignorance with love and understanding.