To me, pride is when you can truly be yourself. It means to be the real person that you are and not worry about what other people think. It is about letting your guard down and being happy in your own skin.
I have had a very mixed life as a gay man. I was accepted by my mum and outed at school. My dad didn’t accept it at first but has 13 years later by saying “I am ok that you’re gay. It’s your choice and that’s ok.”
In the “gay” community I have struggled massively with body image. Being just shy of five foot and not muscle built, I have found it hard to be accepted. It has taken me a long time and I am still working on it but I am coming to terms with being me and not worrying what others think
My mask is about breaking down the barriers and showing your brave self. The copper represents strength and courage. It resembles being exposed and soft to show the real person that you are.
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.
What does pride mean to me? I’m not sure I can give you an answer you may be looking for. I do not feel pride in being a gay man. Nor do I feel shame. I am just me, I don’t spend much time that I am aware of thinking about being gay. I am me, no more and no less. I guess I think being gay is just a part of me, like being short or having brown eyes, or dark hair. It’s just who I am.
What happened to these men was wrong and should never have happened. They now have the opportunity to have their records expunged. For some it will be a great relief to be able to have their names cleared. For others it means dragging up the past, and may be too much to bear. For all I would say, you have come this far in your life, you are stronger than you think. Clearing your name may give you closure, and peace to move on fully with your life.
The world has moved on from when I was young. From a time when being gay was to be ridiculed, made the butt of a joke, put down, or worse, mistreated in someway. While these things did not happen to me directly, I did see it happen around me. For the past 20 years or so I have lived as an openly gay man in a society that has changed and accepted gay people for who they are.
I watch same sex couples holding hands, kissing in public, shopping for the weekly groceries, and in general, getting on with life and no one cares, as they shouldn’t. It’s just two people in love with each other that happen to be of the same sex.
What Pride means to me is learning to be comfortable in yourself and loving you for who you are. You need to feel like you are able to love, date and care for whoever you want
My message to men who were unjustly convicted is don’t be afraid to be true to yourself as you only get one shot at life. Please love who you love without guilt or a feeling of uncomfortability. Because your true friends will admire and accept who you truly are.