Stylist and Choreographer Matthew Gode: ‘Pride Is Not a Month, It Is Our Whole Lives’
For the fifth year in a row, POPSUGAR is dedicating the month of June to recognising LGBTQIA+ voices, having honest conversations about sexuality and gender, and honouring individuality, through personal essays and allyship guidance. A roster of contributors along with the POPSUGAR team are sharing these stories throughout the month, so be sure to find all our pieces here.
To me, Pride is a celebration; a celebration of differences, a celebration of acceptance, and a celebration of love.
To be frank, growing up I always felt different. I rarely felt accepted and often struggled with the idea that I deserved love, so the concept of Pride seemed quite unattainable for most of that time. The concept, however, is more and more realised as I get older.
Like most queer people, I grew up feeling detached from mainstream society. I grew up in a small town in Queensland. I knew that I was different but didn’t quite understand what it was that made me feel that way. It was innate.
I had little references of gay or what that meant, and all I was exposed to through the media was the “token” gay character who was often portrayed as loud, sassy, and overly flamboyant. I identified with this character but not in its entirety. I was more reserved, more quiet, and always felt a little left of centre.
When I told my parents I was gay, I was 15 years old. I wrote them a letter; I knew I couldn’t get the words out if I chose to tell them verbally. I handed the letter over to my dad one day before he left for work. I told him to read the letter in private when he arrived. As he walked to the car I looked out the window and saw him reading the letter in the driveway. He then proceeded to walk back inside and show the letter to my mum.
They called out for me and as I walked out of my room, I could feel my whole body shaking. My dad hugged me and told me that he knew, my mum wanted to talk to me about it further.
She pulled me into another room and asked how I knew if I hadn’t been with another man. I told her I’d known for a while, and I told her that I hope they were proud of me for telling my truth.
To this day I hope my parents are proud of me for living the life I have created for myself. In my adult years, I forged a career for myself that came about by being somewhat rejected from the commercial dance industry I was trying so heavily to be a part of.
I fell into my own lane, creating pieces of work that appealed to a more diverse audience and became more and more involved in the fashion industry. I then began to create work for multiple prestigious international and national platforms, combining my unique dance perspective and high fashion; something that had rarely been done in Australia up until this point.
This is where the concept of Pride really started to settle in for me. Initially, it was Pride in my work, which soon turned to Pride as a queer man in the creative community who has been given a platform to demonstrate a queer perspective.
I feel honoured that I have been given a platform to celebrate my innate queerness through all its creative glory and that I can share that space with other queer creatives in the community. I also feel extremely blessed to even celebrate Pride, as so many parts of the world to this day do not have
that luxury. This is heartbreaking.
To me, and I’m sure all members of the queer community, Pride is not a month. It is our whole lives. We live and breathe it. Every time we go out and turn a look, we are making a statement. Every time we embrace each other, we are making it a statement. Every time we are exactly who we are, we are making a statement, and that is Pride.
So yes, Pride is a celebration, and I have grown to love my differences, feel accepted by the queer community, and now know that I deserve love.
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