This article was submitted anonymously by a UON postgraduate student.
I have always loved the expression, ‘pride of place’. It reminds me of my grandmother and her specially displayed treasures, which were usually fancy ornaments and expensive perfumes, mingled with family portraits. For some reason, when I reflect on this year’s Pride Week, that phrase bubbles to the surface of my consciousness.
Pride Week is tremendously important to me as member of the LGBTQIA+ community. This is a week to not only celebrate the contributions this community makes to the world, but also to recognise the history and experiences that precede it. We must acknowledge the ongoing struggle to be not only accepted but appreciated as valuable community members, regardless of our gender or sexuality.
The recent marriage equality debate provided some stark reminders of the hatred and loathing that still exist in our society. In my world, I am usually surrounded by so much love and acceptance that I can kid myself this little bubble is how the world is en masse. Then, stark reality gives me a nasty little prod, and I am brought back to earth with a thud. There is still a long way to go, but I have absolute faith that our community will continue to thrive, flourish and grow, gently nudging the populace at large towards a place of understanding and equality.
I love the diversity of humankind and all the wonderful variants contained within. I truly value the freedoms afforded to me in Australia and my ability to speak my mind, to protest, celebrate and argue as I see fit. To be a part of Pride Week, you do not need to be a part of the LGBTQIA+ community. It is not about seeing eye-to-eye, but standing shoulder-to-shoulder. Respecting difference and diversity is not about us all being unified in one view or perspective; it is not about who is right or wrong, or one voice being the loudest. It is a simple gesture of humility and humanity. We are all here together, and we must all have a place.
It can be easy for recognition to focus on the readily visible contributions the LGBTQIA+ community makes, such as in the worlds of music, art, fashion and media. But that, to me, is just a small facet of a dazzling gem. It is the ability of this community to expand, adapt, embrace and include that fills me with pride. It is the everyday beauty of love, solidarity, support and friendship which deserves all applause and recognition. Because some days it is hard. It can be so hard to feel different, misunderstood and, sometimes, unwanted. It can hurt to be told your love or your identity is lesser, is confused, is wrong, or probably ‘just a phase’.
For Pride Week, stand with us. Learn about our history and talk about the future. Celebrate all the members of this community. For me, my community will firmly be held in pride of place upon my mental mantle place. It shines there, glittering gently, as one of the most splendid treasure I have ever found.