Last Saturday the Pride Parade was on in my hometown, Perth. Pride Incorporated is Western Australia’s largest community group – representing the lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex community.
The Parade is one of the main events of a three-week-long festival that is all about inclusiveness, diversity, and the willingness to accept and embrace our differences.
And can I tell you – it certainly was a FUN night!! Music, dancing, joy and happiness, plus some spectacular outfits and costumes. It was so exciting to be a part of an event that is all about love and acceptance. It really is a celebration– in every sense of the word.
Pride has been in WA since 1989, now in its 28th year, and was born out of a small movement protesting laws that actively discriminated against members of our community. Like so many movements before them, a small group of people get frustrated and are willing to put their heads about the parapet and be the leaders and creators of change.
Thank God for people like that! If we didn’t have those sorts of Champions, I am curious if slavery would still be alive and well, women still wouldn’t be allowed vote and rampant animal testing would still be happening in our country?
I had the honour and privilege to support the Qantas float as one of their dancers, there were about 50 of us. The first thing I need to come clean about is, I am not a dancer!! Thank God the moves were all pretty simple (yet highly visually effective)! My very dear friend Brock, who was the organiser asked me 6 months ago if I would like to be a part of it. Me, who loves a great time, answered with a “Hell yeah, count me in!!’
At the time I didn’t really think about what I was agreeing to, but as I was standing there on Saturday night as the Parade started, we were watching the first 55 floats walk by (we were number 56 out of almost 100) and I turned to my friend in a very contemplative moment and said “It truly blows my mind that at one time, we used to put these people in jail for being themselves”.
Horrifying! Brutal! Incredibly unfair and so, so, so wrong!
It was in that moment of being there, being a part of it, I connected to just how proud I was to come along and support all my amazing friends who are a part of this community.
The more we stand together, the stronger we become.
The less judgement there is, the more peace we experience.
The real epiphany moment came though, when my gorgeous friend Bel, responded with,
“In some countries Kato, they still do put them in jail”
Wow! I sometimes forget to appreciate the freedoms and rights that we have in Australia! I hadn’t even considered all of those people in the world who are still being persecuted for their sexuality.
When I got home on Saturday night, I googled how many countries still have homosexuality criminalised, have a guess?
Yep, 73 countries where people are not permitted to express their sexuality. Mind blowing!
There is some good news though, it is down from from 92 countries in 2006 and depending on a ruling that is to be made in Kenya very soon, may actually be down to 72 over the coming months.
There is definitely hope.
I eagerly await the day where the colour of your skin, your sexuality, your race, creed, religious beliefs and any other differentiating factor does not impede the level of freedom you get to experience on this planet.