Pride & Prejudice

So as usual, there is in-fighting amongst all the letters in our glorious alphabet of communities. This year seems to have taken a new twist as people are losing their sh*t over changes to the rainbow flag in PA. Apparently, some folks have decided to add extra stripes to denote the inclusion of race.

For my part, I don’t really care either way. If you want to add some stripes to represent the inclusion of race on the flag be my guest. The rainbow flag is just a symbol. It doesn’t define me or my life so modifying it doesn’t really affect me one way or the other. Symbols are meant to represent us, not define us.

On the one side, racism is just as prevalent in the gay community as it is in the straight world. What harm is there in adding reflections of race to show inclusion? Even though the flag wasn’t meant to reflect race, so what if some people want to include a variation that includes it. I’ve seen so many personal variations of the rainbow flag for years. Where is the outrage on all those variations? No one owns a symbol anymore than they own an idea. Let us all stop acting like changing a recognized symbol will end all our hard earned rights.  

On the other side, I also don’t really think it helps anything. Many of our racial tensions are tied to various socioeconomic issues. Until we work thru these, changing a symbol does absolutely nothing IMO. Actions are stronger than words. How about we stop using disrespectful terms to refer to other races? How about we stop acting like every unflattering joke or mention of race/gender is an attack? Even better, how about we stop marginalizing everyone because of the actions of a few? Instead, let us accept that others suffer differently than you. Be willing to look outside your sphere of existence to see thru another’s eyes.These actions and attitudes are much more effective at stopping hate, mistrust, and fear.

This whole pissing match is a reflection of the deeper issues within our umbrella. These ever growing trends of attacking and/or shaming anyone who disagrees, even in the slightest, are doing the work of our enemies for them. We are destroying our communities from within. Our umbrella of people rarely agree on any given topic. Why must we make enemies of each other over different view points like this? The level of vitriol and disgusting behavior I’ve seen on both sides has been deeply disturbing. This is not how we should be treating each other.We can disagree with our allies w/o labeling them as enemies. We can be patient and show understanding as we try to educate those around us who thru privilege or ignorance don’t understand a given viewpoint. Shock value and strong-arm tactics might sometimes work against our enemies but when we use them on our allies we only further the divide between us.

I’ll be the first to admit I don’t have all the answers, but I still support equality and freedom for all. That makes me an ally even though I’m a person who won’t be shouted down just because I don’t always see eye to eye with everyone else. When we silence the voices of our allies over internal squabbles, what is their motivation to speak for us when we need them? And don’t even get me started on the growing tide of small groups who decide they can’t compromise even a little. They demand to have their way or else. If you refuse, they do everything possible to obstruct or shut down the process. How is that productive? You don’t win hearts and minds that way.

While the LGBTI movement has taken some significant large steps recently, it took decades to get this far. We gained many of our rights slowly one at time. We still have more to accomplish. Many of these new found rights are under renewed attack. We need to be unified now more than ever.

GHHD

The first GHHD1 of the season is just around the corner and I’m still grappling with the Pulse massacre. How do I even begin to describe my feelings? It affected me deeper than I thought it would. In many ways, I’m leery now even here in SF. I find myself more watchful of strangers and I’m more mindful of people around me. It makes me angry that I’ve been affected this way. It also made me realize the fight for equality is not over. As long as fanatics think they can go around hurting others in the name of [insert stupid religious extremism here], our fight is not over.

Because of my job I tend to disassociate from big public events, even in the gay world. It isn’t that I don’t care; in my line of work it’s mostly a protection mechanism. But this awful tragedy cut me to my core. I couldn’t ignore it, I couldn’t put it out of my mind and forget about it. I was in tears pretty much the whole week after. I didn’t know a single soul but these are my people. They grew up fighting the way I fought, just to survive and be. Our straight brethren can sympathize but they can never truly understand what we go thru. And that isn’t to bash them. It’s a testament to how we as humans are wired. We tune into ideals and actions that resonate in our own lives. Well this resonated in mine. And worst of all, not in a good way.

Worst of all, it brought back survival fears from my early years of growing up gay. East Texas wasn’t the friendliest place to be gay, let’s face it. I got bashed a few times and witnessed others get bashed as well. It’s funny because I used to tell myself that the hate crimes against me were “minor” because I came away with a few bruises. The sadness in that statement does not escape me now. This tragedy brought back the fear of not only being attacked but also just daring to live openly. I had put that fear away and now it’s come back. I don’t know for how long honestly, but I feel it again. Fears I thought long dead and forgotten. I’m sad, ashamed, and angry all at the same time.

GHHD #1 approaches this weekend and I volunteered to work. I normally make sure I’m off so I can attend the parade or fair. This year I thought I’d do one better and work. It’s not much but I feel like I’m contributing to keeping everyone safe. (I’ll be working remotely from the medical command booth)

I refuse to be afraid to live my life. I refuse to fear being out in public. And I sure as hell refuse to be intimidated into avoiding my own safe places. More of us may die. And I certainly hope it is never me, but I won’t go back in the closet. I won’t pretend to be something I’m not. I can’t think of a better cause to die for honestly. I’m probably being a little dramatic but I’m all worked up right now.

I hope that you celebrate Pride this week. Not because you have to, not because you feel obligated, but because you want to. You want to show that we are united in this. No matter how diverse, we are united in this fight. We will not be intimidated with fear. For my generation, we grew up living/breathing fear and we won’t go back. For the new generation, this might be their first taste of it. We all need to make sure it is their last.

No matter what you do, be safe and know you are loved. If your in big cities or small towns, know that you are not alone and your voice is one of many. I wish you all the safest and happiest Pride. Celebrate in whatever way brings you joy.

Hope springs eternal…




  1. Gay High Holy Day []

GHHD

Well gay fans, Gay High Holy Day #1 (aka Pride) is here. This weekend promises to be a doozey as the weather is nice. Instead of blathering on about the need for gay holidays, pride, etc this year I thought I’d just wish everyone a happy and safe Pride weekend. I figure if you don’t know by know why we still need such events, your obviously living under a rock somewhere.  Whether you’re out in a major way or just going about your daily life, take a moment to look back on how far we’ve come and the road still ahead.

I’ll be out and about. I don’t have any concrete plans other than the Pink party on Saturday and the festival on Sunday. I’m sure shenanigans will ensue at some point but you know I’m not one to gossip. Lol   I’m dirt poor at the moment but thankfully the event is mostly free. I won’t be doing any big parties or that sort of thing.

So as I said, whether you’ll be tooting it up or having a quiet evening at home, reflect for a moment and be proud of who/what you are. Know that you are not alone and that across the country you’re brethren, who were born ‘a little different’ just like you, are celebrating our freedoms.

Have a safe and happy Pride weekend all.