Pride week has come and gone and somehow we were the least gay in all of New York, not attending even a single event. We did do the whole parade bit last year and saw enough queens, assless chaps, and chicks with feax hawks to last a lifetime, yet I still feel a little guilty for not representing.
Despite what I thought for many years, that pride made for good people-watching and was a great excuse to drink in the streets, there is some deep history behind all this half-naked painting of the town.
The first “gay liberation” demonstration/march was held on June 28th, 1970 in response to the 1969 police raid on the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village which led to violent demonstrations and rioting at Christopher Street.
The riots are widely considered to constitute the single most important event leading to the gay liberation movement and the modern fight for gay and lesbian rights in the United States.*
The annual event, the last Sunday in June, sparked “gay freedom” days in other big cities; it wasn’t until the 1980’s, however, with a shift in culture that the words freedom and liberation were replaced with pride.
Although the parties and floats give the feel of Mardi Gras, the message can often be serious commemorating victims of AIDS and anti-LGBT violence. Religious and political groups jump on board the floats to show their support, as well as our friends at PFLAG, and several other activist groups. Even commercial organizations make sure to show face, giving out freebies and shaking their booties down parade row with the best of ’em.
Although I don’t drink as well as I used to and my days of crowded bars and rubbing more than just elbows with sweaty strangers are long over, I still think it’s important to show up. Even in this day and age, the more faces of gay, the better.
This week is about pride, but it’s also about education. It’s about breaking stereotypes and speaking up for ourselves.
For some, it is the only time of year when he/she can be loud and proud. It offers an escape from the everyday reality that ignorance still exists.
I love this video of the latest athletes who have come out in the last few years. It takes a lot of courage to challenge coaches, teammates, contracts, sponsorships, fans–I have known a few professional athletes afraid to do just that, and, quite honestly, I don’t blame them.
Thankfully, it’s getting to the point where statements like, “They’d be stupid not to support him” are prevalent, but we’re not that far away from a very different time.
Thanks to the brave rioters who risked their lives to stand up for our freedom and all those who came before and after that put up the good fight on our behalf. I’m very grateful.
It wasn’t all that long ago when I was confused and afraid myself. Campaigns like “It gets better” are so important for youth struggling with sexuality and being bullied for being different. And these out and proud role models are perhaps doing more than they’ll ever know. What I would have given to have a strong, positive vision of what gay could look like for me.
I often forget how lucky I am to live in a city where gay is so widely accepted it’s practically trendy. I’m no stranger to shrinking into my skin when we travel, suddenly aware that all eyes are on us.
I’m very happy to live in a time where I can be myself, get married and raise a beautiful and loving family.
I suppose I don’t say it enough. I’m proud. I’m damn proud.
I leave you with this: Is there something that you used to see as a flaw or a shortcoming that now you find beauty in? Or even pride? Could you make that shift, if you haven’t yet, embracing your uniqueness? You don’t have to be gay to feel liberated, this week or any; there is a ton of freedom in loving yourself just as you freakin’ are!