June 1st marks the unofficial (or maybe it is official at this point?) beginning of LGBT Pride month in the US. While several cities across the country celebrate Pride in other months, June is truly the epicenter of Pride celebrations across the nation.
And naturally every year, there are the naysayers within the LGBT community – those who think we either don’t need Pride or that we should “tone it down”, and that the half-naked men, leather daddies, and drag queens are not only a distraction but are “hurting the cause.” I would casually remind those people that if it weren’t for the trans women of color and drag queens at Stonewall in 1969, there might not actually be Pride. I would also remind people that after last year’s terrible tragedy at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, not only do we need Pride, but we may need it more than ever.
But I ran across a piece in the Huffington Post by Raymond Miller called “Pride is No Excuse for Shame” and there’s a section in the article I find particularly pertinent.
Yesterday I saw someone comment online, “If you live in the South or the Midwest or any red state as I do, you would know just how badly [the Pride parade] is used against us LGBTs.” They also said, “If the focus were on ordinary folks it would be better. The half-naked and drag queens and sexually explicit displays don’t help the cause.”
Well, as a resident of a red state, I can tell you for a fact that Southern Decadence (though not officially New Orleans Pride) is an enormous draw for people from across the country, both straight and LGBT – and many of them are “ordinary folks.” Furthermore, over the years I’ve seen hundreds of straight allies jeering and booing at the inevitable evangelical “haters” that show up each year at Pride parades in places like Boston, Chicago, and New Orleans.
But Miller follows up with the obvious question that the Pride naysayers apparently don’t think of.
What would make those Southern/Midwestern red-state anti-LGBTQ folks happy, and what exactly is their barometer for what is acceptable? How can we apply logic, reason and consistency to people whose moral compasses seem to be nothing more than ever-widening goalposts to suit their own chosen prejudices? Are people really worried about “morally offending” the people who voted into office as president a thrice-married serial adulterer with five children from three different women who has boasted of sexually-assaulting women against their will in the most crass terms possible, who has openly mocked the disabled, and whose comments about women have been staggeringly sexist? Are they really the ones whose “morality” we need to cater to and need to be careful to not “offend” with our Pride celebrations?
The fact of the matter is that there’s nothing that is going to appease the anti-LGBT crowd about a Pride parade. Its mere existence is an affront to their alleged moral superiority. The people who are choosing to hate us have excuses, not reasons, for their prejudices. As Miller remarks,
A Pride parade could consist solely of people marching in smart business suits holding aloft signs telling everyone the most boringly-normal aspects of their lives and being, and not only would that not change the minds of people who still choose to be anti-LGBTQ… it would also be the most boring parade that ever was.
Saying that Pride parades make you “ashamed to be gay” is an excuse for still being ashamed to be gay.
“Effeminate gays” are not the reason you’re ashamed to be gay. “Open relationships” are not the reason you’re ashamed to be gay. “Slutty promiscuous gays” are not the reason you’re ashamed to be gay. “Nudity in Pride parades” is not the reason you’re ashamed to be gay. “Drag queens” are not the reason your town or family are homophobic.
The reason you’re still ashamed to be gay is that you’re still putting too much stock in the opinions of anti-LGBTQ people. If we’ve learned anything since 1969, we should have learned it’s way past time to stop being ashamed and stop caring what other people think.