Rainbow Nation

graemeOIPNext month Pridefest will be upon us, a bold renewal for our local community and a time for us to show that despite the many different groups, subcultures, and factions within our community, we’re able to set aside our differences and come together. In doing so, we show society that by embracing diversity and difference, true unity is possible. In that aim, the Pride season must not be just a celebration for people of diverse sexuality and gender, but a celebration for all people who cherish diversity.

This year’s Pridefest is titled ‘Rainbow Nation’. It’s a phrase first coined by Archbishop Demond Tutu when South Africa rejected apartheid and held their first fully democratic elections. During his first month as President of South Africa, Nelson Mandella proclaimed that all South Africans were attached to the soil of the country saying, “as are the famous jacaranda trees of Pretoria and the mimosa trees of the bushveld” before describing the country as a rainbow nation of peace.

In the years following Mandella’s declaration many people became critical of the Rainbow Nation concept, claiming that there were still many divisions within South Africa. It was a fair criticism, but the lofty ideal of unity is worthy of pursuit. Similarly in our own communities we have chasms of difference and disconnection between different groups, yet we should continually strive to build bridges and make connections.

Looking at some of the treatment LGBTIQ people are receiving overseas, and the growing level of conservatism and the lobbying power of evangelical religious groups, now is certainly time for our diverse communities to be coming together.

Bring on Pridefest 2013!

Graeme Watson

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