clad in outrageous Pride colours. Walking through the Promenade on a Friday evening, hand in hand with your same-sex lover. Making a lifetime commitment to your same-sex partner.
As 2009’s Pride season draws to a close, David Soomarie reflects:
If you ask any gay person what they want in terms of gay rights, they will easily pick one or all of the above. The ability to publicly and openly demonstrate our same-gender affection is visible manifestation of our freedom of choice and of our right to be.
At the heart of what we’re really saying is that we want the freedom to express ourselves in those ways, if we so chose. However, the issue is more than just these open and public displays of same-gender behaviors; it’s an issue of openness, acceptance and equality. It’s the ability to co-exist with our heterosexual community. It’s living in a country where diversity of sexual expression is not oppressed, but embraced. In other words, can we not equally co-exist with our heterosexual brothers and sisters?
Why are co-existence and equality important? Any society understands that in creating a 20/20 vision you must uphold the dignity and respect of all its citizens, and that includes members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. In creating this 20/20 vision, archaic laws that have allowed for oppression and injustice will have to be repealed, and in so doing pave the way for a new wave of social activism.
What does this mean for the LGBT community? It means that social, medical and protective services will have no grounds to discriminate against us. In fact, it will call for a review of social policies that allow for discrimination and provide a basis for redress. We will no longer have to hide our sexual orientation on insurance applications for fear of not getting it. We can challenge the blood bank, which will not take blood from HIV negative gay men, as we constitute a “high risk” group. It means we have ammunition to sue landlords, employers or any one else who discriminates against us.
It also means that we can be free to create our own social spaces. That we can develop appropriate and relevant social programmes specially designed for our LGBT community, and address its psychosocial needs.
More than that, it means that we can provide hope to an upcoming generation of LGBTs. It means than we can provide a safe and nurturing environment for a young gay man and reduce his risk taking behaviours…behaviours that can endanger his life. We can provide a home for those ostracised by their families. It means that we have mentors to aid in empowering the young lesbian so she can defend her sexuality in a machismo society. It would mean that we no longer have to hide and suppress our sexuality under the cloak of heterosexualism.
More than just a gay parade.
It’s about having the right to be…no more, no less, just human.
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