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 []

Pride-less

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.

  1. And yes it needs a sensational component to sell those tickets. []