‘Let’s speak up and push for change’

Nisha Khot reflects on the fun that is Mardi Gras, and the importance of standing up, opening ourselves to love and pushing for change.


The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists

3 July 2023

By Nisha Khot

On Saturday I joined my fellow doctors from all specialties to march in the Mardi Gras parade as part of the Pride in Medicine float. From never having heard of Mardi Gras to being in it has been quite the journey. I grew up in India where consensual gay sex was only legalised as recently as 2018! My introduction to homosexuality was as a second-year medical student via a paragraph in the textbook of Forensic Science where the word ‘homosexual’ was not mentioned. My understanding of gender and sexuality could be accurately described as non-existent. So, what was I, a straight cis-gendered woman, doing at Mardi Gras?

As doctors we have a responsibility to our patients, our colleagues and ourselves to provide best care. We can only do this if we are open to continuous learning. In the two and a half decades of being an obstetrician-gynaecologist, I have learned how discrimination affects health outcomes. I have learned of my colleagues scarred by many years of not feeling safe to be themselves. And I have learned that although I can’t end discrimination, I can be an ally by turning up, speaking up and pushing for change.

We can all be the change we want to see.

When I was offered the opportunity to make a stand, I signed up. And am I glad I did! Saturday was a celebration of all that we can achieve if we only open our hearts to love and kindness. A small group of kindred souls formed Pride in Medicine. From little things big things grew to include 14 organisations representing different medical and surgical specialties. On the day, sixty doctors (including myself and 3 obstetrician gynaecologist colleagues, Immediate Past President Vijay Roach, Board director Jared Watts, gynaecology-oncologist Shih-Ern Yao) donned glorious, sequinned scrubs to march down Oxford Street. The roaring crowds, the absolute joy on the faces of my colleagues, the glitter and colour, the energy, the dancing, the true camaraderie will stay with me forever. It was without a doubt the funnest place I have ever been. My only complaint is that just as I was getting into my Bollywood-dancing groove, we had reached the other end of Oxford Street and it was all over!

To quote Eliza Dolittle, “I could have danced all night and still have begged for more”.

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