I’m an avid watcher of SBS Food but I’ve been tempted to switch it off many times this week because of the Mardi Gras ad – every time it comes on I get so uncomfortable and I haven’t had the energy to pinpoint why.
I’ve been to Mardi Gras two and a half times. I marched the parade in 2016, my first Mardi Gras – I ended up standing in platforms for five hours, overstimulated and inflamed, in front of what felt like a loud Zionist twink float (I cannot bring myself to call it the Jewish float.) In 2017, me and my friends walked past Josh Thomas who kindly let us take a picture, proceeded to sit in an alleyway that became the designated toilet as the night progressed, were searched by a couple of cops and I got into a verbal altercation with a couple of white straight girls with glitter on their faces. In 2018 I went to a performance at the Oxford Art Factory, but I made sure to arrive once the parade was well over. Every year since I’ve just ordered in and watched people party on my phone.
It’s pretty transparent that the rebranding of LGBT rights to an almost infantilising “Gay Community” that reflects almost every aspect of cisgender white hegemony is a result of the AIDS crisis of the 80s and 90s. Younger generations are only beginning to realise the immense loss in culture caused by wilful medical neglect towards the generations that came before them.
Mistrusting queer and trans people is apparently us winning. It’s been three years and I still refuse to talk about the marriage equality plebiscite. Statistically, the electorate I spent the majority of my life in was deemed the most “homophobic.” Some people made me feel like I was responsible. “Why don’t you have a gay parade on Haldon St then lol” was a Facebook message our group received after our 2016 march.
As part of SBS’s Mardi Gras offerings, I stumbled upon a documentary about the 2016 Pulse shooting in Orlando, hosted by Elliot Page. I remembered a former religious psychologist who tried conversion therapy on me made a public statement condemning the attack. Perhaps one day I will march again, as a Sisyphus and his rainbow rock.
For me, Mardi Gras is the most violent day of the year. Leaving the house comes with a guarantee of dealing with a higher than usual police presence. Coupled with intensified white gaze (perhaps marching for Muslims Against Homophobia in my first Mardi Gras wasn’t a great choice), I’m not going anywhere.
Some of us will continue to have parties in our own houses on the day as a safe and sincere celebration of what Mardi Gras initially marked – an extension of a protest which is far from over. Most of my therapists (all of them white) have told me to cut myself off from my family, with the presumption that I’ll assimilate into this rainbow capitalism stereotype, perhaps. But I deserve it all.
Words: Sol Yoga.
Image: Sol Yoga through an Instagram filter.
You can find Sol on instagram at @heartkunt