“I know the anguish that chokes your heart when the opinion you hate is attached to a person you love.” Connie Schultz
Inspired by many posts this past weekend—some great and some downright offensive—here I am, offering up what Gay Pride means to me this year.
It may be no surprise to you, especially if you are used to me writing, tweeting, or generally being communicative–I am a little swamped right now. Emotions are running high, and my energy tank is on “E”. Sweetie is on break from school, my grandmother Florence (a whole can of family worms and emotions there) just passed away, and along comes the big gay party that I practically count down to each and every year. That is, except for this year.
So what’s different? I am not any less proud this year, not in the least. I am not any less queer, less partnered, less committed to equality. This year, for the first time in—well ever, at least since I’ve been out—I didn’t go to the Pride parade or to Loring Park to be with my people. I took the year off.
Perhaps like Jan, I don’t feel the need to join the big festivities this weekend. In Minneapolis too–its just sort of “in the air.” Everywhere you look, its rainbows and glitter, love in all shapes and sizes, queers and straights mashing up in all of the public spaces to celebrate joy, struggle, our bodies and our resilience as a community. Its a beautiful thing indeed.
I guess I thought the best way I could show love and pride for myself, and for my sweetie, was to just rest. We ARE here, and queer, and shit dang–we are tired.
I have long believed that the act of just showing up is what’s important—and not just the queers either. To move forward as a community–to heal and show love, we must all stand together, and walk the parade route, toast to our year gone by, raise our glass to those friends who are no longer here with us—due to illness or violence or whatever. But this year, I left the marching and drinking to my friends and all the new queers for whom this celebration is a right of passage.
Pride has been a huge part of my life as a queer person. Its hard to explain what its like to stand in all the “normal” and public spaces and watch the minority become the majority—if just for a day. Its breathtaking, hopeful and indeed—something to be proud of. Make no mistake about it—some will, have never, and even STILL will not experience this feeling. For some, its geography, keeping them in rural closets or backwater dank bars. For some, it is religious institutions that try to heal the love right out of ya. And for some still, the self-hatred and shame is just too much to bear witness to.
Someone challenged this thought on their facebook page this past weekend saying “WHY DO YOU NEED A DAMN WEEKEND AND PARADE ABOUT WHO YOU’RE SHTOOPING? How do people not see this does more damage than good for the cause?” This person goes on to say “Again, celebrating homosexuality is like celebrating that you breathe and eat. No one cares about your gayness like no one cares about my straightness.”
One, being queer is not about having sex. Two, being queer is not some gigantic twitter feed—highlighting when homosexuals eat or drink or poop. Not every hashtag on a queer life has #LGBT behind it. But yes, some do. Indeed, dear ranter, being homosexual SHOULD be like the eating and breathing utopia that you speak of. But the fact is, its not. Not even close. In Jamaica, people are still beaten within an inch of their lives (if they are lucky) for just being homosexual. In Uganda, prison or the death penalty. In the US you only need to search for “god hates fags” and you’ll find out how long its been since Matthew Shepard’s death, and transgender murders, well they are just all to common and still widely “understandable.”
I guess my feeling is similar to that of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: “Until all of us are free, none of us are free.”
And though I wasn’t there, marching and hooting and celebrating, I was there in spirit. And I will be until it no longer feels necessary. And if I can be so bold – you should be there too.