Thoughts on Pride

The older I get the more I recognize the world is full of a lot of gray areas. One that evades me, however, is Pride. It exists in a, uh, much more colorful space.

June, and more specifically this weekend, is Pride, the annual event for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people to come together. So far so good.

The event is marked by a parade. So far, I’m still with you. Except this isn’t so much a parade as a borderline offensive display of people’s naughty bits.

Let’s be clear on one thing: gay pride parades are really only known in the public consciousness for men in underwear. Or men dressed as women, or women dressed as men and also possibly naked, but usually less so.

For years I have thought, “People walking around mostly naked is not helping.” It associates gay and lesbian people with lewd behavior or, worse, poor taste and a disregard for some pretty easy social norms. I have said so consistently and every year it doesn’t improve. When you have to work to get the majority – in this case, middle and upper aged white people – to think of you as an equal or at least not vote against you, this doesn’t help.

Supporters have long said Pride parades and festivals are a way to get in front of the general public, to make people more accepting by effectively becoming desensitized to the gay and lesbian community.

Except I don’t know that I’ve ever met a straight person who saw a pride parade and thought, “You know what, they’re all right. Let’s stop voting against them.”

The gay rights movement in this country has seen unparalleled success, but it’s probably more because of Glee, Frasier, and other primetime television shows that put gay and lesbian characters in relatively normal, but somewhat different, situations from straight counterparts.

I’ll probably end up at this Saturday’s Pride parade and it’ll be my third one. But it’ll probably be like last year: watch the parade and wonder how the City doesn’t get sued for issuing the permit and see it as an excuse for perpetuating the stereotype of over-sexed gay men and women. And also drinking before noon.

I’m not sure it helps, but they keep doing it, so maybe eventually everyone will become desensitized. The libertarian in me says “Whatever”, But I get why so many straight people are repulsed and turned off by it.

I’m thankful efforts by so many people to come out to their friends and families have been able to temper the knee-jerk reaction people have toward the community at large.

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