For the past several years since coming out, I have pretty much worn something rainbow every day. I have had a rainbow headspace bracelet, rainbow shoelaces, rainbow shoes, rainbow necklaces, stickers, and patches. In that time, I’ve had very few issues as a result. That is, until the marriage equality debate began and the postal votes started to arrive. In the past few weeks, my rainbow attire has seen me sworn at, harassed, prayed for on public transport, and engaged in heated debate with strangers. When I tell friends and allies outside of the LGBTIQ+ community, they all respond in the same manner; just don’t wear rainbows.
What they fail to understand is the power in queer visibility. Pride isn’t just one month out of the year, or one parade in November – it’s every day that you are your authentic self in a world that tries to tell us we should not exist. For me, being visible is an act of resistance. I’m openly transgender, in spite of all the harassment and death threats I regularly receive, because being visible is powerful. 1 in 25 people is transgender, but I’m usually the first trans person someone meets that they’re aware of. Suddenly, we’re no longer a scary enemy – we’re just people who like reading the same books as you and watching the same gory horror movies.
Visibility matters because it humanises queer people. It shows that we are everywhere, we come from many different backgrounds, and we are normal. We catch the same train to work as you. We barrack for the same footy team as you. We like the same restaurants as you. The only difference is our gender or our sexuality, but those things don’t define us.
Our visibility also means we can find other queer people, and we need solidarity in each other to know we are not alone in this battle for equality. I often wear my rainbow shoes to my shifts with the YEP Crew, and every shift someone talks to me about them – either a young and terrified LGBTIQ+ person, or a non-queer person who has valid questions or needs help supporting a queer friend.
Visibility is more important than ever in the age of the postal plebiscite. So I wear my rainbows still, regardless of how many people tell me how much easier it would be to hide who I am. Because I want to be a role model for my younger self and for all the young people struggling right now. Pride isn’t something we need to save for the festivities – it’s being proud of who you are every day, even when it’s hard, to prove that no matter how hard it gets you won’t (and can’t) change. And I am very proud of who I am.