Posts Tagged ‘Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras’


Wednesday, March 16th, 2011

“What are you doing tonight?, Mardi Gras of course!, Pfffft, Mardi Gras”

This was the exchange i had with a friend the afternoon of Mardi Gras, i flinched when i first read the comment, by the next morning i was quite angry about it. As per usual there was the last minute flurry of who was going, who wasn’t, and of course the friends who say they aren’t going who always end up with a smear of lippy, and a tail of tinsel hanging out of there ass, with ticket clutched in hand.

Maybe i fail my basic ‘Gay ABC’s’ because i never stress who is playing at the party, where, when and what DJ is playing, and most distressingly what I’m wearing, my main concern is, ‘How many friends are going?, hope to catch up with some old ones, and maybe make some new ones’ and that’s really it.

I can’t go to these parties and just switch off, in fact i can’t do anything switched off, I’m always observing, always contemplative, I’ve been thinking about this recently, and weather or not this is a good or bad thing, I’m going to run with good, i seem to be able to do this internally, while the outside facade has a great time partying.

I had to travel in by train, talk about a melting pot of loon’s, Queens, moperer’s, hard core Dykes, bewildered straits, drunk supportive strait guys and girls, drunk homophobic assholes (they know they want it) but a melting pot none the less, and that’s a great thing. I stared out the train window, and watched the people squish into the cramped carriage.

I had a big smile on my face, because all these people were getting on at suburban train stations, and many of them were dressed up, and also dressed down (in the best possible way), I realized ‘This is a chance for people who normally wouldn’t have a chance, to get in touch with there inner filth’, it’s a night where you have an excuse to dress up as Snow White, or as a tart with a heart, to stretch the norm, and to feel that it’s okay to step outside the box, even if it is for one night, it’s a taste of freedom, and hopefully a taste of ‘Fuck you!’.

This is what i hope is felt by the strait community who come to party, or to show support, they’re the ones who need to spread the word that’s it’s okay to be ‘different’, we feel it, they need to understand it.

For all the problems Mardi Gras has with some anti social behavior, I’m certain the good that is done by smooshing all these people together, far outweighs a public pissing incident in Taylor Square, or an inappropriate fondling of a police horse, you see, it’s all about visibility, and normalization.

I know normalization is an odd word to use in relation to Mardi Gras, by that i mean, people seeing that no matter how dressed up, how outlandish the behavior, how confrontational, it really all comes down to people wanting to be treated equally, that not everyone has to conform, and most importantly that no matter how far the boundaries are pushed, the sky hasn’t, and won’t fall. Someone way smarter than i once said ‘Change comes slowly’, maybe that should be ‘real change’, because tho on the surface things may look okay, even great in some instances, the truth is there is a lot more work to be done, before even the deepest and most hidden seams of homophobia are exposed and defused.

Mardi Gras (no matter the politics of the organization) plays a huge roll in this process, it’s a reminder to people, like ‘Pffft, Mardi Gras’ friend, that there is still work to be done, we still have a lot of yelling to do, petitions to sign, hearts to reset, minds to reprogram, or hopefully gently massage towards the direction of equality, and addressing what is essentially a disparity in our human rights.

I don’t care if the floats are shit, i don’t care if some of it has been seen before, i don’t even care if NAIR hair removal cream paid top coin for a float, to subliminally entice all those unmanscaped, glorious, strait guys to get a smear of pink cream on there ball bag, to smooth out a wooly nut (actually, i do care about that .. a lot, and for all the wrong reasons).

At work the following Monday I overheard a class of fifteen 18-23 year old trade students all talking about Mardi Gras, some grizzled that there girlfriends dragged them along, some recounted the fun they had, some recoiled as they relived the memory of seeing their first Leather Daddy, and a few protested a little too much (Shhh, I won’t tell) but they were talking, it was stilted sometimes, and a few you could hear the hesitancy in there voices, as they tried not to let on how much fun they really had, but these guys were ‘talking’ and they are ‘exactly’ why we need less ‘Pffft’ and more visibility, because it’s people like these guys who need to be comfortable in and around the GLBTI community, and a big party, with tinsel, and glitter, and flashing lights is just the way to slowly show them that ‘It’s okay’, it’s like the old psychological trick of exposure therapy for those with phobia’s, if you’re exposed to something long enough, it simply becomes mundane, ordinary and accepted.

We have to be seen, we have to keep moving forward, that’s what i picture as the parade lurches, farts and backfires up the street, i see people moving forward, P-FLAG mum’s dad’s, nana’s, grand dad’s, same sex couples with kids, young GLBTI kid’s marching for the first time, the aged in the community, the Bears, the twinks, the Dykes on bikes, all moving together.

Until myself, And family, and friends in the GLBTI community can move as freely as our strait brothers and sisters can ‘anywhere’ we wish, until I, and those who share a differing sexual attraction, or are gender diverse, are ‘completely’ comfortable, safe, and at ease with displays of loving affection, then we still have work to do, ‘Well enough’ is not ‘Good enough’, not in homophobia, not in sexism, not in racism (insert your own ‘Ism’ here) even ‘Pffft-ism’.

Later at the party I was very aware of a brotherhood and sisterhood, an energy. I was greeted at the gate by an ‘Emotional baggage handler’, where I was asked to check in any woes or emotional baggage I may be bring, no matter if it was Louis Vuitton, the baggage was to stay at the door, and before me lay our special little land, a little corner of the universe in Moore Park, where all the things I mention above are real (well, sort of, at least you get a glimpse of the promise of it), it’s a little pocket of what (with a little tweaking) things could, and should one day be (more) like.

It was so empowering, and so joyous, to see the shy, the outrageous, the happy, the sad, the gay, the strait, the Bi, the intersex, the transgender, the ‘whatever’ all moving and flowing with each other, no looks down noses, no looking over shoulders to see who might be following you for holding hands.

I gasped and glowed, as I watched just your average guys and girls walking around comfortably, and proudly, holding hands, looking like anyone on the street, that’s what myself and others fought for, and worked for all those years ago, that’s ‘all’ I really wanted, nothing more, nothing less, than anyone else on the street, all I wished and worked towards was a time when your average guys could be seen walking along proudly, lovingly, and adoringly holding hands, for the life of me I cant see why people would fight against that, or be afraid of it.

What i saw as i danced, were others all dancing in time to the same music, i looked at these guys holding hands, some from ethnic backgrounds which i could only imagine how tough it may have been, or could be, to be out and safe. I saw older guys who had obviously seen first hand the horrors of HIV, i saw young girls wearing t shirts saying ‘I haven’t told my boyfriend yet’, i saw happily married, strait couples dancing with us to show love and support, and i saw people who perhaps this was the only time, and space they could feel this freedom.

I knew when we left this space that we’d be leaving a little more empowered, a little more aware, and maybe, hopefully able to take this awareness into the outside world, and slowly, but surely show the world that ‘It’s okay, it’s going to be alright, you have nothing to fear, but so much to gain’

So, here’s raising a glass to the world’s biggest exposure therapy party, long may you run.

Ps/ yes that was me at 2.00am standing in front of the Gozleme stall, staring for half an hour, waiting for a show to begin, it’s Mardi Gras, you get that.