Home > LGBT, Life or something like it > Entry 01/10/2011 12:09:28 PM – Mentat 595

Entry 01/10/2011 12:09:28 PM – Mentat 595


Once again; I find myself dealing with more than a little ire and frustration this morning as I stumbled across a poll on someone’s profile on Deviant Art that stirred up a bit of conversation between a friend of mine and I. The original poll can be found here. The thing is kids of this generation haven’t a clue as to what we of my generation and the generations before mine that had go to through for being gay. They don’t know what it’s like to stigmatized, forced into isolation for fear, for hate crimes happening that would go uninvestigated and worse unreported because of the history of law enforcement doing positively nothing about it. For the peer pressures of being called a freak, an aberration, not being human, or sane… They don’t know what it’s like to lose a loved one, and in losing that loved one the will to provide being considered null & void by the court and having all of the possessions collected between them given to the parents, the family only to watch them throw it all out or give away to charities or sold off. Being thrown out of houses and apartments for being gay. Hell, when AIDS was killing people in a week or a month’s time, being denied to sitting there in ICU because the partner/boyfriend/girlfriend wasn’t family and therefore not allowed in.

The kids in this poll (and many that I’ve encountered in my wanderings) think that Pride Parade is a freak show. It’s an anathema to acceptance by the world at large. It’s an outdated tradition that should go the same way of the dinosaurs because they see no point to it anymore.

And yet, I’m keenly reminded things aren’t so perfect and the world isn’t so accepting of diversity and difference given that not three months ago we had something called Spirit Day because kids are still killing themselves because they are being bullied about being gay.

The thing is Pride (Week, and the Parade) isn’t about acceptance queerfolk by the world at large. That particular message actually came sometime later (sometime in the late 70s to early 80s as I seem recall, when I was an activist and the message being said to newscasters asking participants “why?”). The original message that stems from its start in the 70s (shortly after Stonewall) has always been about visibility. It’s about being counted and being seen. It’s about stemming back fear against the oppression that comes from being isolated. Pride has always tried to be something the community has put on for itself as a “me/us” day where we can be visible, out and basically ourselves without fear of oppression, peer pressure, and hatred. It’s about feeling safe because of the sheer numbers that would prevent oppression from the outside world. Originally the hope of Pride was that if it had helped one more person out of the closet, than that was one less person hiding in fear and from oppression. One less person feeling isolated and alone.

Through time and its success it changed. It was more than just entertainment and safety. When the AIDS Crisis hit in the late 70s and early 80s, Activism and Education/Awareness were added to the venue. A program to stamp out the “it [AIDS] will never happen to me” was started along with a spearhead of political activism by such groups as the GMHC and later ACT-UP were born to both educate as well as assist in forming political activist groups to get government to working on better and more ethical treatment for those living with HIV and AIDS. About groups like PFLAG to help parents cope with their children being gay and lesbian and children learning to accept that being homosexual isn’t bad. It became about hoping to get one more person active politically to help change the oppression that had been going on for the decades before Stonewall.

What Pride stands for has been and will always be about educating the LGBT “community” in finding outlets of safety. About finding acceptance within itself. About safety of being oneself if only for a day, and for that day be swallowed up by a community of like-folk without feeling the isolation that comes from being that 1 in 10 the other 364 days of the year.

So the question that seems to be sort of spoken in that poll by kids that seem to think we have no need for Pride, I say this:

For as long as we have kids like Tyler Clementi, and Raymond Chase and hate crimes like this, this and this in 2010 that echo forward like Matthew Shepard‘s. Or statistics like this from 2005 – 2008 and such rebuttals like this from Right Wing Activists the very next year…. I’d say it’s needed now as much as it was needed when I came out in 1979.

Okay, I’m off my soapbox now. Until the next time.

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