Last year, around this time, there were a number of conversations around the topic of “Is Pride still necessary?” After all, we were a year past Windsor, marriage equality was winning in the courts as well as in the court of public opinion. We were done, right? To that, Barbara Weicksel wrote on LGBTQ Nation:
“This world we live in is not always easy. It’s not always filled with love and hope and peace. More often than not, it’s filled with hate and war and people who love to judge.
“We are judged by what we wear, where we live, what we drive, the color of our skin, the tone of our voice, the car we drive, and, yes… who we love.”
This piece prompted me to post the paragraphs below:
Image| Wikimedia Commons: Benson Kua
But today, in a world where marriage equality is surely happening in places that we never thought it might even a year ago, in a world where the web is chock-a-block with gay-themed content even while mainstream television is not, in a world where tolerance, if not outright acceptance, is at a high, certainly in my lifetime, is there really a reason for a pride parade?
Absolutely, unequivocally, YES.
When I went to my first pride parade, I was only ever-so-slightly out. I wasn’t ready to accept myself completely and I certainly didn’t believe that anyone else would. And I was scared to death.
My first pride event was the 1993 March on Washington, D.C. It was so big they made a documentary film about it. There were more people on the Mall that April day than I ever saw at Presidential inaugurals or the insanity that is the 4th of July in the capital. I was in awe of that crowd.
And I learned that I absolutely was not alone; that there were, at the very least, a million other people just like me who descended on Washington that day; that I would be all right and that, in today’s parlance, it would get better.
In spite of the Internet and web series and Sunday morning talk shows and Oprah and self-help d’jour, there is, I guarantee it, somebody in Connersville, Indiana or Orangeburg, South Carolina or Bend, Oregon or New York City who is scared and desperate and does not yet understand that it is okay to be themselves. The bloody, bold, resolute, wild and garish pride parade is a hell of a lot more than cute boys dancing on a parade float; it’s a message that everyone can and will be accepted. Keep it going!
Flash forward a year and we are on the cusp of what could be the greatest civil rights court decision of our generation if the Supreme Court upholds the circuit court mandates that states must recognize all civil marriages in the Obergefell case. We’re on the edge of what feels like a new generation. A new hopefulness. A new renaissance of thought, if you will.
And yet, when the cover of the new Vanity Fair magazine came out this week featuring Caitlyn Jenner, I read some of the nasty, horrible, spiteful comments that are so pervasive on social media and I realized that this hopeful renaissance is just in certain bubbles. We have so much farther to go to reach acceptance. And mere acceptance is basically just the toleration of differences. We must not settle for mere acceptance.
How much does it hurt you to call someone by the name they want? To use the pronoun they want? To not worry about who used which bathroom? Did you hurl vitriol at Bruce when he was winning that gold medal? Did you watch him on TV when he was married to a Kardashian? If Bruce Jenner, as was, wants to transition, if she now prefers the feminine gender pronoun, if she wants to pee sitting down in the ladies room, what the hell business is it of yours?
Somehow there are religions being created out there evidently that require you to submit to specific gender roles defined on television shows like Ozzie & Harriet in the 1950s. It’s just nuts. I tend to think that, like in most other things, Mr. Rogers said it best:
“Love isn’t a state of perfect caring. It is an active noun like struggle. To love someone is to strive to accept that person exactly the way he or she is, right here and now.”
Remember that, please, whoever you are reading this.
Codified discrimination disguised as “religious freedom” is the watchword of the day. Beware. |Image: Justin Sullivan/Getty via Slate.
And then, if that weren’t enough, in the wackadoo state where I was born, the legislature is trying to override the governor’s veto to codify into law that it is okay for a magistrate not to do their job if they think something may violate their religious beliefs — like marrying two men. It’s just so stupid it’s laughable, but they’ve already passed the override in the senate, the house is not far behind, I fear. I just weep for the people who live in these horrible, oppressive states.
Of course, it’s not just gay people. You can use one of these crazy laws to not marry people of different genders or religions or hair textures or because you think someone once met a Muslim and didn’t stone them to death. It’s macabre. It’s medieval. There’s a great op-ed about this in the Charlotte Observer. Well, great is not the word I’d use, really; achingly sad and annoyingly outrageous, more like.
Somehow, these moronic legislators keep getting elected. Well, dearly beloveds, tell everyone you know: don’t fucking vote for them any longer.
OH, AND THEN — because today can’t be any more surreal — the jackhole governor of Indiana, has written a letter allegedly supporting Indy Pride that never once uses any of the following words: gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, inclusion or support. Fuck off, Indiana. Another place to scratch off the vacation list.
So, do we still need Pride? You’re damn right we do.
Come out, come out, wherever you are. And please, share this with a friend.