In Mardi Gras season we tend to see a lot of the icons of gayness, the perfectly buffed and preened bodies, varying levels of lavish and minimalist party costumes, leather S&M wear, drag and more. Its certainly what the crowds come to see, and sometimes experience. And with any big festival there's a great hype in the lead up to it all that excites and enthuses everyone to be a part of it all.
But not everyone fits the icons that Mardi Gras illuminates. I certainly remember as a teenager feeling incredibly detached from the whole idea of being gay because I certainly didn't feel I had anything in common with those icons I had come to know. Maybe I wasn't gay, I would think, despite the fact that I was attracted to men. Being gay though is not about being an iconic figure, it's about loving someone of the same sex. The rest is irrelevant really.
A parade with just normal looking people doing normal every day things isn't exactly going to get hearts racing though. But it's nice to know they're there and if I knew more people who were gay when I was still questioning where I was at in my own world, I think it might have made life considerably different.
In time, I've learned to appreciate the various aspects of the gay community and the significant diversity of it all. It doesn't mean I'm always comfortable with it all, and while I don't walk the other way when a drag queen approaches me these days, I still think about doing it... Some things I think are fantastic, like seeing people finally being able to be themselves, not having to hide sexuality or personal preferences. Other things I still find distressing, like friends suffering from substance abuse problems.
While Mardi Gras has evolved from a civil rights protest into more of a celebration of sexuality, it's still important to continue with the quest for civil rights. And probably the biggest thing people can do is to be openly gay in their own world, and be positive role models in those places.
This is all a long winded way to introduce today's Wild Wednesday - which is a challenge to look at your world and be who you are - without facades, without barriers - not who people want you to be - and to be proud of who you are. Let the world see it, and come to appreciate it, and ultimately people will demand change.
Visible and Proud, and comfortable in your own skin.
It is a challenge for more than just today.