Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Why "Gay Pride"?

I remember before there was a Gay Pride Month. When there were only Gay Day Parades. I remember when the parades mixed fun, release, AIDs heartbreak and defiance. Along the parade route in West Hollywood we used to release thousands of Red helium balloons in remembrance of those who had died.

Gay Pride is not about being proud of being gay. Gay Pride is about being proud to be human. Gay Pride is about proud to be accepted by friends, family, and community. Gay pride is about being seen as equal to everyone else.

I worked at the Revolver during Gay Pride Parade Day before we had a month. I saw the joy in the eyes of people who did and didn't have that much to be joyful for. 

Later I saw families and children and gay people and straight people and hispanics and blacks and white, all celebrating inclusion in the families of humans.

Gay Pride Month is a marketing concept first driven by activists tying different city celebrations together and now driven by corporations, marketing, and economics. But it still reminds us that we are equal and valued as humans and Americans. We should not forget that.

One last thing. When I was young and stupid, I was embarrassed by overly feminine men on the streets and in parades. But that changed during the AIDS crisis. These boys were still very feminine, there was still drag. But it wasn't (and isn't) embarrassing. These men were living openly when many of gays couldn't (not me, I had good parents and friends and was at UCLA even before AIDS).

So now, as they attack drag queens, they are attacking the people that paved the way for me. When they now attack trans kids, I see the most visible and venerable again being attacked. Not for who they are, but only for what they represent. An authentic life and their own happiness.

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