I don’t know if it is a trend or if maybe I’m just noticing it more but I have noticed a rather vocal mix of gays who are distancing themselves from this years Pride celebration. I say ‘distancing’ to basically cover the fact we are becoming just like those who hate us more and more every day. I guess we really are moving into mainstream because we’re certainly becoming less and less tolerant every day. How very normal of us. Well, if that is what it takes to be considered normal, you can keep it.
Of course you hear the usual arguments, “Those people are so over the top” or “I just don’t feel like they represent me.” Let me spell out what should be completely obvious. If I wanna wrap myself in tin foil and where a pink tutu swinging from the highest float in the parade that doesn’t negate or reduce my right to equality. You don’t have to be my best friend, be my friend, or even like me but that doesn’t mean I am any more/less deserving than you. No one’s right to equality should depend on anyone else’s personal disapproval. Conformity is not a prerequisite to equality.
From my perspective, when I hear “I just don’t identify with Pride celebrations anymore. They don’t represent who I am”, to me that is just code for saying, “Now that I have a decent amount of rights, I’m indifferent and can’t be bothered anymore.” How many straight allies would we have if they were all so indifferent? Like it or not, many of those people helped jump start our movement. It might be an inconvenient truth but it is still the truth.
The irony here is I’ve always said that the more vocal and visible don’t always represent the bulk of our community. I still say that. Let me step beyond my irritation for a moment and get to the point of my little ramble today. The gist I get from many of these rants is that they see only the people IN the parade. What about the thousands or hundreds of thousands in the audience? THEY are the true representation of our very diverse community. The parade is just the reason to sell tickets and get you out the door.1 I would argue when you look down your nose and avoid it, you are the one doing the harm. You are denying those coming up behind us from seeing their life’s struggles reflected in your eyes. You are the one keeping the focus on the more sensational and/or seedy parts of our community. We have more rights now than we’ve ever had in this country. And we are on the cusp of truly breaking down the inequalities inflicted upon us in law. But true representation requires attendance from the varied paths within to exist. When you do not participate you remove part of that representation from the equation. And frankly, when you walk away or don’t participate you give up the right to bitch about it.
I still remember the overwhelming connection I felt at my first few Prides. It wasn’t because I identified with everyone in the parades, it was because I saw masses of people who were like me. I didn’t feel alone anymore. Those singular moments were very empowering. I would never willingly deny that to anyone coming up behind me.
Whether you celebrate Pride or not, don’t tear down those who do attend simply because you disagree with their choices or particular flair expressing themselves. While they may not be a true representation of our community, at least they show up.
- And yes it needs a sensational component to sell those tickets. [↩]