My heart sinks seeing the GayTM like this. Not just because it's the day before the Auckland Pride Parade, but because it wakes me up and makes me realise there is still hatred out there for LGBTs.
Read more: ANZ Bank 'sad' over Ponsonby GayTM attack by vandals
It's easy, especially in a suburb like Ponsonby, to live in a bubble where you think everybody accepts you. You feel like just another person walking the streets, going about your life. When something like this happens, it hurts just as much as a punch in the face.
I don't want to write this action off as homophobia. To quote Morgan Freeman, "I hate the word homophobia. It's not a phobia. You are not scared. You are an asshole."
The vandal is just that; nothing more. In a few hours the GayTM will be cleaned up, but this bigot has to live their sad existence forever.
This weekend is an important weekend for the gay community, and for Auckland as a whole. A small action like this won't dampen our Pride spirits, because that's what Pride is all about: overcoming adversity.
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As I wrote last year, Pride exists so two men or two women can walk down the street hand-in-hand, and kids passing by won't think to ask their parents why. Pride exists to let gay people - for one day, or one week of the year - feel not part of any minority. Pride exists to exhibit and enjoy every part of modern gay culture and all of its humour, sentiment and style.
Pride sends a message: there is no shame in being gay, out, and indeed proud of it. It lets the bigots of the world know that in cultural concord and shared cultural ideas across communities, we find strength. We, the gay community, continue to be visible because we hark back to those who were proudest - despite the ramifications. LGBT liberation needs air to stay alive, and Pride, for just a short period each year, is a proverbial walk in the park that re-fills our lungs with oxygen.
Perhaps most importantly, Pride matters because there are young LGBT people out there feeling lost, alone, and devoid of a culture or community of their own. Pride tells them that, bigotry and politics aside, the world can be a safe and supportive place for them to be alive.