In the vein of my last post I thought I share some follow up observations. Pride as a celebration/protest/march/event has changed. It continues to change every year. This should not be a surprise as our community has seen the fastest change in acceptance of any civil rights struggle in the last century. What Pride means to me is different from someone experiencing Pride for the first time. And of course, Pride as an event as always been a bit subjective. For some it is a celebration, for others it is a protest, and for some still it is an act of defiance.
The Pup and I did our first Pride together this year and I still found myself getting a little choked up. To my surprise, he mentioned to me later that he had as well. I often spend as much time looking out across the see of attendees as I do the parade participants. Looking out across the sea of people still gets to me every time. It reminds me of where I came from and where we are headed. It doesn’t matter if they represent me or look/act like me. No matter our differences in life, I always feel connected to them in a common thread that is humanity. We are all but mainstream now. For some that is a blessing and others see it as a curse. Either way, our often treasured events are no longer just ours. They are shared by others, some who just come to party. I don’t begrudge them.1 For me, Pride will always be a celebration of that dawning realization I was not alone.
That being said, the Pride of the 70’s/80’s/90’s is gone. As with life, all things change and as fast as we change, so does our celebrations. I do lament that many of the younger generation will never take the time to know the struggle of those before. They won’t know the pain, the heartache, and even death of the many souls who fought for us to be seen as humans; deserving of the same respect and treatment as our straight brethren. But having freedom doesn’t mean others should comply with my way of thinking or acting. The alphabet of letters we’ve assigned ourselves and others are all welcome at the table. Just as freedom should not be contingent on compliance or conformance, neither should equality.
Many of my frustrations with Pride (and other gay events) has little to do with us as a community and more with society as a whole. We devolving in many ways. If we don’t pull away from the indifference, selfishness, and anti-intellectualism that is plaguing our society, we are in big trouble. I fear for ‘our’ celebrations because of this. But I digress. Our own alphabet community, while tied together in common struggle, is beginning to unravel and fight against itself. Having tasted the sweet fruit of equality, we are abandoning our tolerance and acceptance of our differences. We see the world thru the lens of black and white and anyone who would disagree, even in the slightest, is often labeled the enemy.
There is an emergent polarization erupting in our rainbow colored spectrum. We have those who embrace our newfound equality and those who rail against it. The former are labeled sellouts and conformists and the latter are labeled freaks and anarchists. While both labels may be true in some instances, such overly broad generalizations are not helpful. Some of the antics from both sides in the last year have made me ashamed to be called gay.
Each of us is responsible for our actions. We can choose to mire ourselves in the obscurity of the masses because it is easy and comfortable. Or we can choose to lead a path of truth, even when it isn’t always convenient. You have to ask yourself, which path are you on?
- Even if I begrudge some of their drunken antics [↩]