Pride

June 14th, 2010

As the comment below shows, this is something I’ve been thinking about for a while. The Capital Pride festival yesterday (read this Post article for more about that) inspired me to write about it.

“I was a living contradiction. I was still a self-hating gay man going to a straight psychotherapist with the intention of getting cured and getting married. There was no ‘gay pride’ back then — there was only gay fear and gay isolation and gay distrust and gay self-hatred.” — Edmund White, City Boy: My Life in New York During the 1960s and ’70s
 
“LA: As always, you make excellent points. However …you mentioned that you’re proud to be who you are, which I agree you should be. But one thought about that: it seems to me that some gays (not sure if you’re one) are proud to be gay; in fact, that’s often interpreted as the meaning of “gay pride.” I personally do not believe that anyone should be proud to be gay, just as I don’t believe anyone should be ashamed to be gay, or proud to be straight, or proud or ashamed to be white, black, or whatever. We are those things, as you have eloquently and repeatedly stated, by nature and not by choice. One should be proud of a gay son or daughter not for their being gay, but for what they accomplish and for how they are as people. However, one thing that gays can and should be proud of about being gay, and that is to be proud of the strength of character that it takes to accept yourself when some parts of society unjustly condemn you, and for the fortitude that it take[s] to stand up for yourself in those situations. Does that make sense? … By all means, go ahead and continue to be proud to be different, but maybe what you’re really proud of is the way you’ve approached being different. I guess what I’m trying to say is that being gay is not something in and of itself to be proud or ashamed of. It’s like what MLK (to re-link to that earlier part of the discussion) said about being judged for the content of one’s character and not the color of one’s skin.” – twopart comment 12/12/09 to HuffPost commenter and all around good guy, Liberal Angel


In life, you won’t get far

If you’re ashamed of who you are.

When someone does something wrong, they should feel contrition,

But safe consensual sex doesn’t fit that definition.


Is being proud of who you are

And how you were born going to far?

Should I feel pride

Because I’m brown-eyed?


To paraphrase the immortal Godfather of Soul

And the song which in black pride played a role,

“Say it loud,

I’m gay and I’m proud.”


But there’s a difference between being proud and gay

And being proud because you’re gay.

We should be proud of ourselves because of what we do,

Not because of what we’re born to.


I grew up in Eastern PA.

I didn’t know anyone openly gay.

It’s not that my parents tried to keep it from me,

It’s just that there wasn’t any open homosexuality to see.


For the Pennsylvania Dutch, talking about sex is a hard sell

(We followed a civilian form of “don’t ask, don’t tell”).

Talking about sexuality of any kind was unseemly,

And made people uncomfortable (extremely).


Most people probably were somewhat anti-gay,

But they wouldn’t have thought of themselves that way.

(They didn’t have a chance to discriminate, so I can only posit,

Since most gays were in the closet.)


But in Eastern PA and throughout most of the nation,

Gays lived lives of quiet desperation,

In fear that they’d be found out

And of what would happen if they came out.


Or, they took their supply of Crisco

And moved to New York or San Francisco

To be with others like themselves, or at least less antagonistic,

With views less anachronistic.


Times have changed, and for the better,

Thanks (among others) to Harvey Milk, a political trend-setter.

In most circles it’s no longer OK to bash gays anymore,

And gays have more rights and respect than before.


Of course, pockets of prejudice continue to exist,

And gays must continue for equal rights to insist.

There’s still lots more to be done

(And, to keep from being undone).


I liked that yesterday’s event was also a celebration

Of all that’s been accomplished to end anti-gay discrimination.

It will always be important to remember that accomplishment,

Just like it will always be important to remember the Civil Rights movement.


And gay pride is still needed

To counter bigotry in places where acceptance hasn’t yet succeeded.

But ’m looking forward to the day

When it’s not an issue to be proud because you’re gay.


And for those of you that think these pride marchers are a threat,

That’s only because you haven’t seen these guys yet!

***

Here’s Harvey Milk speaking about giving hope to that young kid who may have just realized he or she is gay (Milk is an excellent movie—buy or rent it if you haven’t seen it yet).

 

Here’s video from the event, including outtakes from the DC Cowboys and Chely Wright, who performed Single White Female (watch that below – at the end she changes the line “looking for a man like you” to “looking for a girl like you”).
 
 

Here’s the quintessential pride song, Say it Loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud, by the great James Brown. If you have a way to re-record this with new “I’m gay and I’m proud” lyrics (you’d think someone would have done that already, but I couldn’t find it online), email me the Youtube link and I’ll put it up.

And here’s your theme music for today, Trapped in the Closet by R. Kelly, followed by a scene the hilarious South Park spoof.

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