Fashion Faux Pas no.5

Photo by Justin Tui

Every time I read about Mardi Gras or pride events I always see that there are people who are critical of what these events really represent to the wider community and how they are closed to some parts of the Gay community who do not fit the pumped up youth and body centric culture. I think it’s fair to be critical of ourselves and to make sure that we don’t lose sight of where we have come from. I also think it’s fair to make sure that all parts of our community feel welcomed and value the contributions of everybody.

I wrote this article some time ago after I saw a comment from an individual who questioned the validity and relevancy of the Mardi Gras festival and I think the reasoning stands up just as much now as it ever has.

The comment went as follows.

Fashion Faux Pas no. 5

Anything Mardi Gras.

These people don’t represent most normal gay men in Australia. The parade has lost touch with it’s original purpose. People who watch the parade aren’t supporters, but more so turn up just to watch the freak show go by. 

If we are to have equal rights then these megalomaniacs need to stop flashing their ageing beer bellies and dimpled butt cheeks on tired old floats that serve no purpose than to fulfil a small band of egomaniacal fantasies.

The comment was accompanied by an image of the Lifesavers with Pride.

I don’t normally get fired up and this guy is entitled to his opinion and in many ways I think it is a valid point of view but the language was deliberately provocative and I couldn’t help but respond in kind. It made me really angry that a member of my own community would deride the work and courage of so many who stand up for our community. If my response is fiery it is because it is something very close to my heart. 

it went as follows,

Sorry but this is an incredibly narrow minded comment and I think that you should think a little deeper about what you are saying.

Normal people DO have beer bellies and dimpled butt cheeks. Equality means that everyone not just the fitties and the hotties get to march as part of the community without fear of being body shamed or told to put it away by armchair commentators.

I am one of the Lifesavers with pride pictured here. This organization is made up individuals from a large cross section of the community. These people volunteer their time to save lives and keep complete strangers safe.

Groups like this and others like the armed forces and police to name a couple, form an important  part of our cultural identity. It shows those watching that we are part of mainstream culture. It shows that we are more than the images of chaps, ass cheeks and drag queens that the media so often chooses to identify us as a community. It shows all the nay sayers that we are contributing to the community. We are lifesavers, police, soldiers, doctors, nurses and teachers to name a few.

It also shows those members of our own community that you can be gay and still have a healthy lifestyle as part of mainstream culture and organizations. This is what pride is about.

You don’t have to march but don’t disparage those who do. Visibility is as much a part of pride as it activist heritage and you don’t get to judge or regulate what the pride means to different people.

So there it is, and yes maybe I went off the deep end a bit but I won’t sit quietly while my friends and many other people who do good works everyday are called names and put down for their courage especially by a member of our own community making cheap comments for a laugh.

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