Pride to me means quiet strength in breathing the same amount of airspace as those around me, to paraphrase a writer whose name escapes me. Pride is recognising the courage with which we confidently move through the world as equal but not the same participants.
My life as a gay man has been one of delight that I am for the who and what I’ve met along the way that I may not have otherwise experienced. A life of living with and enjoying human diversity. It hasn’t been a smooth road but its given me a tribe that has become family where we share both sorrows and successes. I’ve loved being a gay man and never wanted to be otherwise.
My mask tells a story of a much younger me learning early to hide full expression behind an impervious barrier in a childhood landscape that was blue and green and straw yellow. It’s a landscape that hasn’t left me though the barrier has been mostly eroded.
Pride means I get to be me. I get to live my life as a proud, out gay man. When I was younger I remember hearing the word “poof” like so many others around me. It prevented me from coming out when I was really young (15 or 16). But it didn’t take me much longer.
Pride means confidence, self-expression, community, acceptance, solidarity, camaraderie, joy of life, living, amazing creativity, growing graciousness and wisdom
My message to men who were unjustly convicted is claim your emancipation! Take back what is rightfully yours – your dignity, your self expression and your youthful searchings. The antiquated laws were a reaction to fear of the unknown, the different – so step up and make yourself known in your beauty and diversity boldly but graciously
What has changed is that many more people have experience and language around gay and bisexual people. There’s a greater degree of ‘naturalness’ around engaging with LGBTI people. I sense the community is a lot more supportive/vocal of LGBTI people – event spontaneously in situations of tension or discrimination. Also, many LGBTI people are becoming more articulate and courageous in challenging community attitudes
My mask is black and white – signifying the ambivalence I feel towards my gay self. The tri coloured tears on the white surface are the blood, sweat and tears of struggling with life and relationships of a gay man. The tears are necessary and worthwhile and are blended in together. The ambivalence I mentioned is both my own feelings and the feelings of people close to me who struggle with acceptance and understanding of other world views.