A Gay Christian and the Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras
On the 7th March 2009, I marched in my first Mardi Gras with the group Freedom 2 b[e]. For me this was an event surrounded in excitement, fear, anticipation, doubt, love and uncertainty.
Growing up in a predominantly Christian household, Mardi Gras was always seen as an evil, wicked event for the homosexuals. Was told often “it’s disgusting” or more commonly “pray for rain so that the devil may not do his work”.
And here I was about to march in something that was meant to be ‘evil’. I sat there in the marshalling area and it all became too much. Those fears and uncertainties were surrounding me as I questioned whether or not I was doing the right thing. I was in a Tee, shorts and a cap, like many of the other Freedom 2 b[e] group, while many other groups were wearing little more than speedos or undies. I wondered if this is really where a Christian should be….
I gathered a group of about 5 or 6 people together and we just started praying. As we prayed I knew that God’s love, strength and hope was with us and at that moment we knew we had to march. We could not pull out. We had to be the light and pour out love to all who were there, showing the gay community that God really does love them.
Marching was an amazing experience. For me, it helped me gain a greater sense of self acceptance and hope as a gay man. It also helped me to understand that even in the midst of uncertainty and fear, God is with us. Jesus holds you and me close and he will never let us go. He is there with open arms to comfort us when we are weak.
As I walked down Oxford Street, I looked around and caught glimpses of people that I knew. Uni friends, school mates and mates from the gay community were there. All cheering me on. Even my parents were watching on TV, cheering for me. I had never felt so liberated in my entire life!!
I also caught the eyes of some people in the crowd that connected with our message. By marching we were being voices for them, giving them hope, showing them that God has never stopped loving them for being gay. Jesus was always there, even though the church may have rejected them.
From my blog: Just As I Am: The story of Ben Gresham