I'm a proud Black Gay man. That's not the controversial part, stay with me...
I was raised in a religion that said I was an abomination.
I grew up in a society that said my life was less valuable than others.
I'm old enough (I know it's hard to believe!) to remember when no one would express a positive opinion on homosexuality for fear of being branded a faggot.
I remember when you had to look out with eagle eyes for a tiny little rainbow flag in a shop window or a restaraunt, even in a liberal stronghold like New York City, so that you knew you and your boyfriend would be welcome.
So when I wander around town and look up and see in an office block window a massive post-it mural that says Love Happens Here it knocks the wind out of me. When I walk down Oxford st and see every single shop front flying the rainbow colours, it brings a tear to my eye.
You can complain all you want about the commercial treason of selling out to corporations if you want. But me? I'm glad I have lived long enough to see a world where corporations want to embrace us. And no, I don't believe that they want me to be one of those safe monogamous married heteronormative gays. Because you know what?
Tomorrow no one will know or care that my husband and I have an open relationship. No one will know that one of our favourite parts of our honeymoon in Disney World was inviting half of the resort back to our hotel room every night. All of the families that smiled at us there and let their children take photos with me (I was in full Darth Disney mode) didn't care at all. And why is that? Because the tide has turned and part of that sea change is corporations telling the world either by lip service or with actual accountability that we are not the enemy. We are not abominations.
You all look around and complain about Starbucks saying Love Happened Here but let me ask you this? Without legal victories and corporate support, how much change do you think we really would have achieved on our own as a very tiny minority of the population?
How many corporations have supported Black Lives Matter in this way? Are people any less afraid of black people now than they ever were? Is the dialogue used about black people that much different today then it was or is it just more coded?
There are so many more black and brown people in this world than there are gay people and yet look what we have achieved in such a short time. Look and be grateful.
My great grandfather grew up in the time of segregation and lynchings, so too did my grandfather, my father grew up in the time of desegregation and lynchings and yet I find myself still living in the time of lynching.
But I also live in a world where who I have sex with and who I love went from being an abomination to a celebration within my lifetime.
So, on Pride I will be celebrating, because while many of you are out there bemoaning the state of Pride (a subject none of you invented, it's been a thing for longer than many of us have been alive) I will look around at every rainbow and be thankful that I have lived to see this day.
I will be thankful for every rainbow flag I see today because it is a nail in the coffin of the man that spat in my face and called me a faggot in Queens. It's a slap in the face for every boy in Queensland that bullied me and called me a poof. It's a reminder to everyone in all of the congregations I grew up in that they are losing...the tide has turned and they were all wrong.
Thankful because I don't know that I will see a day when the colour of my skin is celebrated on Oxford Street and Fifth Avenue and In the Castro and in Madrid and in Rio and in Tokyo. But I live in hope.
*and before you start, I'm not saying we shouldn't hold these corporate sponsors accountable. Their affiliation comes with a price and if they don't live up to it, as we have seen, we can use our now considerable pressure to make them. Think of them like dumb animals – they respond better to reward training than to punishment training.