Pride & its relationship to being gay
Posted by mandyf on May 15, 2012
Pride is a word that is increasingly being equated with being gay just as much as it is with being proud of any number of things. I honestly only noticed this the past month or so as many of my straight friends asked how I enjoyed Pride. I, and almost everyone within earshot knew the question was in reference to Gay Pride celebrations and not some measure of self esteem concerning my recent workout regimen’s effects on my figure. Just for the record I’m a bit proud of that drop in a dress size, and a bit shamed it came right back.
Being as I am I almost never shy away from conflict, I don’t look for it, but if it is presented I’ll hear your piece out and give you the other side of the story. In this same above mentioned conversation one of the regulars at my neighborhood breakfast spot asked me how did being gay, lesbian, “transwhatever” as he termed it, or whatever we called ourselves now equate with something to be proud of? His first argument which was it is an abomination I could argue in my sleep until I leave heads spinning all around, but his second point did make me stop to think. “If it is the way you are born, how can you be proud of it? Why then isn’t there deaf pride day, or asthma pride day.”
Now I admit that really had me stuck for a second. Then luckily the answer hit me. I queried whether people born deaf, asthmatic, blind, or any such condition are allowed to marry. He said sure they are. I then asked if they face housing discrimination or have to go through the torturous process of coming out to family and friends. Of course not he said, people just know. I had to stop myself from laughing for a second imagining how much easier it would have been to say, “Mom, dad….I’m osteoperotic and I’m proud.”
The point of relating this is to illustrate pride is related to being gay more so because we are proud of how far we have come and who we are as people. It’s not really a matter of saying I’m proud I’m gay, it’s a matter of being able to say I’m proud I can live openly as a gay person. I’m proud I don’t have to hide in the shadows anymore and lead a double life. I’m proud of the people that came before me and took a stand so I may enjoy this privilege. I’m proud to take a stand so that it advances until we are all equal and live without stigmatization for simply being attracted to a person of the same sex.
Then of course the next thing my foe for the morning brought up was the Gay Pride Parade. He wanted to know what was up with all those flesh peddling deviants running around in public. Was that kind of behavior something to be proud of? I put on my most serious face and said “Gee Mike, how do you know that was going on? We were there all day and I never saw you. Were you in drag or something? Where were all these naked flesh peddlers, I would have filled my memory card with pictures of them.” Of course he had no real answer. He didn’t really know what went on at Pride, he assumed what might go on at Pride. You know what they say happens when we assume. Anyway they estimated the crowd at the last Pride I attended was easily better than one third heterosexual based on polling numbers. I know my group was in line with that. So I asked if it is supposedly so offensive to straight people, why do so many attend it? His only retort was that “they must be sickos.”
Actually I went to four Pride parades this year alone with two more on tap. I’ve only seen two nearly topless women, neither of which had physiques I’d be proud of displaying, but they were so who really cares? I saw drag queens, and all types of people that you would imagine, but you know what? I’m proud they were able to be out there expressing who they are. It didn’t hurt anyone. It didn’t break any laws. A few outfits broke with good fashion sense, but that’s not a crime. In all honesty I didn’t see anything that made me feel shame or broke any laws. That made me proud.
I can’t say so much for the St. Patrick’s day parade this year which netted 18 arrests, public drunkenness run amok, several fist fights, and sexual conduct ready to make a peep show reel. It didn’t cause a death like the Super Bowl victory parade I attended, or overturned and burnt cars on top of civil disobedience at it’s worst at the World Series victory parade down the road a few years ago. How does that put a good face on an overwhelmingly heterosexual crowd? By comparison, Gay Pride festivities were yawn if you were looking for decadence.
So what is Pride in relation to being gay really? It’s being able to take Pride in ourselves and not feel shame because some people think it’s wrong. It’s about not having to stay in the closet because someone might get upset or angered. It’s about being able to hold hands, embrace, or yes even kiss our partner in public the same as heterosexual people do without being looked down on. It’s about being equal, not separate but equal. Mostly though pride as it relates to being gay is about being able to be who we are without excuses. Everyone should be proud of that gay or straight. It’s just sad that people who haven’t had to live without that can’t understand it or why it is so important to us.