Every June, every major city across the nation comes together celebrating the LGBTQ movement that started in a small gay bar in Greenwich Village in NYC. You may have heard of it. Stonewall Inn, anyone? I’ll spare you the history lesson; after all, that’s what Google is for. Suffice it to say that that warm summer night in June would be the start of the revolutionary gay movement and the birth of what we now celebrate as Pride month.
But wait- Did you think this was going to be a history lesson? Are you not paying attention? I literally just said this was not, in fact, a history lesson!
Look, I’m a proud gay man who unabashedly flaunted my rainbow bandana and short shorts in several major cities this month because really, who doesn’t like a good Kiki? I’m glad that the LGBT community can come together to celebrate our diversity and that a whole month is dedicated for said celebration.
However, are, we as gay men overlooking the historical and cultural reference that this month represents? Is it so easy for us all to forget the men and women who paved the way for us to even be ALLOWED to celebrate our differences in lieu of shirtless torsos, countless parties, a plethora of beads (I have a box full of beads from my many years at Pride celebrations!), and glitter? Have we turned Pride Month into an event to pull out every stereotype that we’ve fought so hard to overcome? Worse; Has Pride Month transformed into a whole month- long justification to be as promiscuous as possible (once again, reinforcing the ideology that the LGBT community are, for lack of a better term, “whores”)? As my social media continued to burst into seas of rainbows, I found myself pondering these very questions.
Its these questions that have prompted me to reach out to my straight allies- you know, those people who like sex with the opposite sex (I’m just as confused as you are!) but still support my rights as a gay man and love me, unconditionally (except for that one time I puked on you shoes, Amanda. Sorry!). To that regard, it seems as my original hypothesis proved to carry some truth. As one friend put it “I feel that pride should be celebrated but now it just an excuse to party and behave erratically. As someone, who supports the LGBTQ community, these are events I would want to bring my children to. I’ve been to these events. These are not kid friendly events!” Is she wrong? I can remember, or not remember, many pride events where I participated in events under the guise of “I’m Gay! Pay Attention to me!” to excuse my unruly and juvenile antics.
In another scenario, one of my self-proclaimed “Twinks for Trump” friends opined that the Pride months are only important if you have that perfect Zac Efron-esque body, that piercing smile revealing your blinding pearly whites, and that unforgettable chiseled jawline. “Why should I pump myself to celebrate a month dedicated to my very existence when members of my own community will be quick to make it clear, I’m not welcome?” 99 per cent of the time, said friend and I disagree. I mean how can you relate to someone who is proud to be a “Twink for Trump”? (More on that late) However, I found myself wondering if there wasn’t some- hell- LOTS of truth behind what his words represented. Have you ever been to Nellies in DC? Ten in Atlanta? Sidetrack in Chicago? Score in Miami? I have and while I’m always there with the intent of having a great time with my homosexual friends, I continually feel out of place, wondering of the gaggle of “mean boys” in the corner are laughing at my less than perfect body, my age (I’ll be…GASP! 35 this year, which basically means death in the Gay World- RIP Anthony- it’s been real.), or looks. I find myself anxious. Why can’t I look like that? Why can’t I be 24 again? Why did I have to eat those TWO double cheeseburgers three weeks ago? In a setting that’s supposed to be our “haven”, Pride month or not, why has it become more of an anxiety inducing nightmare? And I would be lying to you if I said that I wasn’t that same 24-year-old mean boy at 24. Some of those mean boy remnants still linger so I’m not judging Joe Twink # 22. I’m just trying to understand how this has become the norm. To once again quote my oft-wrong, right-wing friend, “How can we demand equality from the rest of the world when we refuse to give it to each other?” Just like my straight friend, is he wrong?
Finally, another one of my I’m-too-liberal-for-God friend posted on Facebook that anyone who questioned the significance of Pride month and chided it as an excuse for us to act erratically and our outlandish behavior, to remove him from Facebook. Did he have a point? Once again, this is Pride month, the one time a gay guy can be as slutty as he wants to and nobody can say anything to him because it is all in the spirt of the month celebrating our community. Have I just allowed my views to skew my judgment in my old age? I mean, it’s not like I behave as I did during Pride month mostly in my regular day to day life (Sue me! Saturdays and alcohol happen every month- not just in June!) to quote Liberal Lance, “Why should I care what other people think about me any time of the year, but especially during June. This is my month to shine. This is my month to say, F#$k it! I’m Gay! I’m out! And I’m here to stay!” Again, is he wrong? I want the whole world to know that I’m not afraid of who I am and that I won’t be silenced for who I love- or what I love. Should I be “minding my own business” and focusing on what Pride represents to me while also acknowledging that “having pride” means many things to different people?
I’m not quite sure I have an answer to any of these questions but I do find myself pondering all three scenarios, wondering what umbrella I fall under. All I can say, under our current political climate, we have to be mindful of social and political events happening around us before all of our pride is stripped away from each and every one of us! I told myself that I would keep politics to a minimum for this article as I really wanted to understand the varying perspectives on Pride month without having politics pollute and distract me at the real issue here. So, I’ll leave you with this: This year, I’ve tried to remember the significance behind our celebration as I drank myself to oblivion. Gay pride month shouldn’t be an excuse to party. It shouldn’t be an excuse to exclude ourselves from our heterosexual counterparts. I mean, wasn’t the original purpose of our plight to demand mainstream integration? Pride month should be just as valuable as any months, especially considering how far we have come from the Stonewall Riots- and that’s really what any of this is really all about, regardless of where you stand on the “is it or isn’t it” spectrum. Honestly, these barriers that continue to separate us should be broken down, just like each and every one of our closet doors. Then, and only then, can we create an equal world for future generations to enjoy, together or create a formidable alliance to battle the evil Dark Lord shall he decide to launch an all our war against people who just want to love who they want without fear of repercussion To me, that’s what the Stonewall Riot was all about.