As a gay man who is rarely discriminated against, you’d think that I would be questioning why we even need gay pride parades anymore. If I don’t experience it, is it even happening? Well, the fact is, while I don’t notice homophobia on a personal level, I still do see it on a societal level. Even in a place as progressive as Australia, there are people here who don’t like my sexuality. And even though a majority accept differing sexualities, many still wish to deny me certain rights.
It was only four years ago when Australia took part in a postal survey, asking whether same-sex couples can get married. And over a third of my fellow Australians preferred I didn’t. That’s 4,873,987 people who don’t think I should be able to marry my future boyfriend. In a country of only 25 million people (minus the children), that’s a decent chunk of the population. Of course, it must be said that a majority of these people probably don’t care that I am gay. In fact, many of them probably accept that we are part of society. They just prefer the traditional style of marriage between a man and a woman. (As if that’s always been tradition.)
Indeed, when it comes to sexuality, a majority of western society don’t really care anymore. They’re like coming out to Grandma. “Oh, you’re gay? That’s nice, dear.” We can party at gay clubs, openly use Grindr, and marry our same-sex lovers. Of course, that can’t be said for many of the countries in the Middle East, where some jurisdictions actively kill gay people while many others still persecute them. In my eyes, that’s a perfectly good reason to march down the street and state your pride. Just imagine how enthralling it would be to know that your actions, however small, could ignite activism in other, darker parts of the world.
Of course, even despite the social freedoms we gays see in the Western world, there are still many out there in our own countries who face homophobia. And it’s not just the kind that’s shared by others, but also within one’s own mind. Internalised homophobia is a dangerous thing, and it permeates every part of this world. Even today, depression and suicide remain high (even in Western countries) thanks to this personal affliction – likely because people don’t feel they belong, or even want to belong, to the queer demographic. And what better way to showcase that it’s okay to be gay than a gay pride parade?
As well as all this, we have to remember that homosexuality is not the only reason we have pride parades. The rainbow alphabet also includes transgender and intersex people. And they are as much a part of pride as the various sexualities. Because the ultimate reason for pride is to showcase that it is okay to be who you are while equally helping intolerant people to be tolerant.
It’s okay to be gay, as much as it is okay to be straight. It’s also okay be transgender, as much as it is okay to be cisgender. And even if you fall in between these binaries, they are all equally normal.
The fact is, there are many reasons why we still have gay pride parades. In Western societies, where rights for queer people are extremely visible, there are still people who wish to deny us certain freedoms. And yes, as hard as it is to accept, there are people who just don’t like us at all. And this includes our own selves, where internalised homophobia still wreaks havoc.
And if you still don’t think gay parades are necessary, try telling that to all the queer people who are still being killed in certain parts of the world – simply for being themselves.