Pride Month

A look at a letter to the editor, Bay Windows, a decade or so ago.  Interesting to feel that now, in the age of Trump/Hate I don’t care as much at what Pride marches bring as long as you are out there being counted.  Nevertheless, I still agree with the latter half of this missive:

Towards A More Perfect Union

I came out over a decade ago and, at the time, was excited to go to my first gay pride parade.  I went, I enjoyed it, I reveled.  I felt—freshly out of the closet— that there was a part of me that needed further exploration, research, acknowledgment, and understanding.  That first year, my personal reading almost exclusively dealt with gay rights issues, spirituality, sexuality, and history.  I volunteered at the local center and other organizations and fostered queer friendships over straight ones (my straight friends were understanding and supportive knowing it was a complete time of exploration.)  How could I not know this intrinsic, inborn part of my self?

My twenty-second birthday came and soon thereafter the following year’s gay pride celebrations.  I had fallen in love, come out to my friends and family, but never again found myself in another gay pride parade.  It was not that I had turned anti-gay or that I had experienced discrimination, or that I had experienced any kind of shame—the previous year’s explorations had marked the beginning of a continued, conscious engagement in achieving a totality of “being” and that intrinsically included my queer self.

I simply felt that gay pride parades and gay pride celebrations did not most accurately portray who I was or who my community was.  In fact, over the next decade I slowly walked away from defending gay pride parades and celebrations as a needed existence in our social world, particularly for those first coming out of the closet.

As I have grown older and tolerance and acceptance have been increasingly achieved legally (and even more so socially,) I feel deeply disappointed and saddened that the queer movement has not rattled this last “cage” of ours and brought enlightenment within it.

It was pride in who we are as people that inspired Stonewall.  Its ultimate aim was socio-political: one of securing basic human rights for all, regardless of sexual orientation.  So why not, in the truest spirit of pride, have we faltered and not followed the original intent of those who first risked their freedom for peace, justice, and equality?  Why, instead of becoming a celebration remembered mostly for sexual proclivity did pride not evolve to that original pursuit of its founders, working to forge a more perfect union?

I propose we work to make June Queer History Month.  I propose that instead of parades there be signature gathering, speeches, rallies, forums, memorial celebrations, job fairs, educational lectures, and invitations to legislators to engage the queer and non-queer public.  I propose that all block parties be fundraisers for local non-profits.  Last, I propose that all non-profit organizations serving queer communities show true leadership and come together once a year within each city to help achieve this.

My parade would work to not just guarantee the rights that I have now but to further them.  My parade would work to secure a safe place for my queer brethren and our posterity.  My parade would work to fund programs to decrease suicides in youths, to encourage dialogue in schools, to educate employers on how to foster and build a diverse workplace, to penetrate all corners of our nation with a message of acceptance in an embrace that will chip away and perhaps vanquish all shame. My parade would work to make these great United States truly a more perfect union.  This is no dream, no pie in the sky.  This is achievable, now.

I challenge you to print this.  I challenge you who read this to put it on the desk of your executive director every week until you have answers.  I challenge you to begin a dialogue on what a true pride celebration can achieve.  I want to be proud of Pride for once, since I was not there with Sylvia Rivera and countless of other drag queens, transgender people, and ethnic minorities marching into history for my benefit one fateful night in June, long ago.