I wonder if any of you know what the words ‘mardi gras’ really mean.  I didn’t.  It means ‘Fat Tuesday’, and originated in New Orleans in 1699.

In New Orleans, Paris and Rio, Mardi Gras is always celebrated 47 days before Easter Sunday, on the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, with the official colours being purple, green and gold — purple for justice, green for faith, and gold for power. There is no reference to it being a celebration of sexual identity.

The first Mardi Gras celebration I marched in was a lonely affair in New York City back in the 1960s, beginning at Greenwich Village and marching up Broadway to Central Park. We were only a stalwart group of about 100 and were looked on with disdain and spat upon by passers-by.

Now when I march in the Mardi Gras in Sydney, up to 500,000 people blow kisses and shout encouragement to us as we parade brilliantly with an extravaganza of floats and costumes designed to collectively celebrate our individuality. How our world has changed.

There are those of us in our so-called queer community who, other than their sexual preference, are really no different from any other of our species. We are all homo sapiens first and heterosexual, bisexual, homosexual, transsexual and asexual afterwards.

I think our Mardi Gras with its conglomerate of all aspects of our community is MAGnificent, but with so much hatred in the world between one sect or belief and another, wouldn’t it be fabulous if one year we went back to Fat Tuesday and invited the entire community, gay and straight, to march together, celebrating not only our differences but also our common humanity.

And we could then add pink to the purple, green and gold.

By STEVE OSTROW, Mature-Aged Gays

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