To me, pride means celebrating my differences rather than hiding from them. I remind myself on a daily basis that I’m lucky to be gay, because I’ve been able to grow up with a firm sense of social justice and important understanding of oppression and marginalisation. I wouldn’t be the man I am today if I weren’t gay, and I’ll never stop being proud of that.
My message to men who were justly convicted is that while your convictions were unjust and the product of a homophobic society you never should have been subjected to, I’ll forever be grateful to you for paving the way for my teenage self, who felt confident enough to come out to friends and family in his country town. If it wasn’t for you, I might not be here today.
Growing up in country Victoria, I often felt I couldn’t express my true self. I couldn’t express my love of singing Mariah Carey ballads at the top of my lungs. I couldn’t express my affinity for late night re-runs of the trashy gay soap Dante’s Cove. And, most importantly, I couldn’t express my same-sex attraction (despite harbouring an intense crush on Will Smith circa Fresh Prince of Bel Air). This mask represents the person I wanted to see free in my country town.