🙂 Hi everyone
For those of you who don’t know me, I am a very proud mother of a gay son who lives in Sydney with his partner. (See my story in this section of the forum). They are members of the group Freedom2b(e). (I live 10 hours away from them in Northern NSW).
Many months before Mardi Gras, I sought permission to march with my son. (I was actually the first parent to ever come forward and want to march with their gay sibling in the Freedom2b(e) group). The months leading up to Mardi Gras went by so quickly and before I knew it, it was time to make my way to Sydney. I arrived in Sydney the week before Mardi Gras and it was great to see the support in shop windows and on buildings with pride flags flying in the wind. (Even a taxi driver wished me a Happy Mardi Gras). There was a definite buzz around the inner suburbs leading up to Mardi Gras Saturday.
My events for the celebrations started on Friday, 4th March when I met Adam from Brisbane who I had been in contact with via emails for quite a few months. (He is also a member of Freedom2b(e)). We had coffee and lunch and just chatted for hours. He is such a beautiful young man to chat to and I felt like I had known him for years even though it had only been months. Thank you again Adam.
Then on Friday night, Freedom2b(e) hosted a “meet and greet” bbq as a pre-Mardi Gras event. This night was just so friendly and I thoroughly enjoyed meeting more people and chatting to the people I had met previously as well. Everyone I spoke to was just so supportive of me marching with my son. Other parents who were also marching with their sons were there as well and they too are very lovely and accepting people.
Mardi Gras Saturday was a quiet day for me as Sam (my son) & Ben (his partner) had to leave early to help with final preparations for the march. I was just so excited and the day went very quickly. Ben’s parents and I arrived at the assembly area (almost late as we had already walked quite a few kilometers to get there and our sons thought we would not make it) and everyone was buzzing with excitement. We all then headed to Hyde Park to our allocated spot in the Park. Words cannot describe how I felt to be actually there showing my love and support for an organisation that has helped so many LGBT people over the years.
I was now allowed to disperse in the Park and “do my own thing” for quite a few hours until I had to regroup ready to march. My beautiful friends, Phyll and Mike (Ben’s parents) and I found a seat in the Park and just watched the passing parade (so to speak). This was their first time marching also. Lots of people stopped and chatted to us as they saw our Freedom2b(e) t-shirts and wanted to know what they represented. All were very friendly and there were some amazing costumes. I did not see one person misbehave or have any aggression towards anyone. Everyone was just buzzing with excitement, joy and happiness. The hours went by very quickly and the excitement mounted. It wasn’t long before we had to regroup in the street and be ready to march.
I was given the honour of carrying a sign that said “Freedom to Love Our Son” along with the other parents. I was a bit unsure of how I would carry it all the way as it was a large sign for me and it was also a bit breezy, but God gave me the strength that I needed and it felt very light as I went along and I managed to carry it all the way.
I was quite teary before we started as the atmosphere of the group was just electric and everyone was just so excited. For many like me, it was their first time and it certainly won’t be my last. I felt just so proud to be marching (or should I say dancing) with my son, his partner and his parents and everyone in the Freedom2b(e) group. The experience was just so special and wonderful and will be something that I will remember for the rest of my life. When we rounded the first corner into Oxford Street the crowds just went wild and cheered us on and all along Oxford Street they were just so accepting and they were also on all the balconies along the route. There wasn’t a spare space at all for the whole march route. You could feel their love towards the group as we approached and even after we passed by. It was amazing.
It felt that we had only just started when sadly the end was in sight. It went just so quickly. I felt just so joyous and happy and proud that I wanted to do it again.
Most of the group of marchers then went back to Bar Cleveland for our own after party and more catching up with friends and new acquaintances.
The love shown to me by the Freedom2b(e) group and anyone I came in contact with during the four hours waiting to march, was just overwhelming. I would thoroughly recommend this experience to any parent of a LGBT sibling. It will not only bring you closer to your child, but will also show you that there are many more accepting people in Sydney than you realise.
Also a big thank you to the organising committee. You did a fantastic job co-ordinating and organising approximately 100 people. Well done.
I will be there again next year, so if any parents feel that they would like to march with their gay sibling and are a bit unsure or nervous, please don’t be. You will be welcomed with open arms and just so much love and friendship from the Freedom 2b(e) family.