Saturday, February 26, 2011

Show Your Pride!

I read several LGBTQ blog sites daily.  It's a great way to keep up on the news and happenings in and surrounding the LGBTQ community.  Also, it's a great way to explore the diversity of people and opinions within our rainbow walls.  We don't all agree.  (duh)  We don't all always see eye to eye.  (duh)  And we're not all cut from the same rainbow cloth.  (duh)  I oftentimes have very strong reactions to some of the opinions and blogs that I read. 

The other day, I stumbled upon a blog titled, "Why We Should Cancel Pride Celebrations".  Feel free to read the blog, but I'll try to sum up the author's opinion in a few short sentences.  Essentially, this blogster feels that we have a duty as members of the LGBTQ community to funnel our money, time and pride away from these unnecessary pride celebrations, and instead we should be refocusing our time and finances towards programs specifically targeting LGBTQ youth.  He states that these outward demonstrations of pride do nothing to help the youth in our community that are targets of bullying or are dealing with difficult home lives or even homelessness. 

While I can't argue against his emotion and the specific point he's trying to make, I disagree with his premise overall.

Pride celebrations are more than campy celebrations with fabulously dressed, rainbow masses.  Pride celebrations are a show of solidarity amongst our varied group of individuals.  It's a way for us to come together and, even if for only a short moment, shift our focus away from living in what remains a heterosexually privileged world.  We can celebrate ourselves, our diversity and show pride with no reservation.  We have permission to yell and scream our frustrations over the inequalities that exist for our community.  And we have permission to be ourselves in a supportive environment without fear of being judged as godless abominations worthy of stoning.  Strength in numbers, strength in conviction, strength in pride...

On the contrary, I believe we'd be doing a great disservice to the tortured and overlooked LGBTQ youth in our world by cancelling pride celebrations.  Money and programs are important, and recently, there has been an increased focus on the youth in our community, with multiple programs FINALLY beginning to focus their efforts on this oft forgotten group.  But with supportive programs, visibility is extremely important.  Not only for the struggling youth who may look at a group of pride celebrators and think:  "OMG!  Someone like me!  Someone who understands!"...but also for the other LGBTQ community members who may find strength, acceptance and support for the first time in their lives. 

Visibility is also important outside of our community.  We need to share/scream our message about the need for equality.  We need to show the ignorant bigots that their wish for us to disappear or remain silent will never be granted.  And we need to show the not-so-ignorant folks that are on the fence in regards to our community that we are just like them...that we have families, jobs, and lives AND above all else, we deserve to live our lives sharing in all of the rights that they are given automatically as straight individuals and/or couples. 

Without visibility, there will be no opportunity for progress or growth or movement towards equality in this world.  Closeting ourselves while funneling money to youth programs won't change the world.  In fact, it may encourage "them" to forget that we're here, to forget our message, and to forget that an extreme level of inequality exists for the LGBTQ community.

Although I see the point of the blogster that is rallying against pride celebrations, I disagree with his premise.  The truth is, we should do both.  We should increase our focus on the youth of our community, at the same time we come together and show our pride amongst each other and to the world.  We cannot grow as a community and as a society in general if we force ourselves back into some self-imposed closet.  We need to be visible (so they don't forget) and we need to support each other from within. a personal aside...after UncleR and I get married in a few short months, we'll be celebrating with 200,000 other folks at one of the largest pride celebrations in our country.  I'm firmly convinced that they'll all be celebrating for us.

My rainbow shoes are ready to march. 

Maybe a young girl will see UncleR and I marching with our "Just Married" shirts and she'll know that she's not alone in her want for a family or marriage.  She'll know there's someone out there just like her.  And she'll know that we're fighting for her. 

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