June is officially Gay Pride Month, and as we all wait to see what the Supreme Court will do on some very important decisions, I am contemplating next week’s Gay Pride Parade here in Seattle. Many people have asked why we’re so loud when we’re proud; why we have to march through the streets; why businesses around town have to sport rainbow flags to show we’re welcome to shop there. I’ll tell you. I’m a lesbian, so I have strong opinions on this issue.
We are waiting on the courts to decide on rights that everyone else already has. As I write this, many of my queer brothers and sisters can be fired because of who they are–legally. I have a close friend who was just fired for being gay. That’s illegal here in Seattle, but it still happens. GLBT people face harassment around the globe and across the United States. We’re assaulted; we’re discriminated against; we’re murdered. Yes, things have gotten better, but even the people who support us sometimes treat us like stereotypes instead of people.
I know people within the gay community who dislike the parade for this reason. They argue that the parade showcases the most flamboyant among us, those with the most alternative liftestyles. It’s true, those may be the people you notice. It’s also true that there are some of us who blend in more than others. Some assert that we’re just like heterosexuals except for the people we choose to love and have sex with. That’s not really true.
It’s true in a Shakespearean sense–if you cut us we bleed; if you tickle us we laugh. It’s not true in a cultural sense. We are a part of the larger culture, but we also have our own rich culture and tradition. Who we love and how we exist as a group shapes us as a people, and it is intrinsically linked to who we are. We are the accountants, the dog lovers, the librarians. We are the drag queens, the leather daddies, the dykes on bikes. We are so many things and the parades represent them all.
I’m in favor of the parades because they showcase our variety to the community at large. I’ve also experienced the healing power of the parade. Even in liberal places, hateful treatment comes when you least expect it. Many queer people do not have supportive families, and we form our own chosen families for this reason. We never know when we’re going to be treated differently or even harmed just because of who we are. I’ve marched down the streets of Seattle as part of the parade. It may seem silly, but it helps to hear that PFLAG loves me; to hear the cheers of the crowd as they support our display of pride. It makes me cry every damn time.
No doubt some are there to gawk. Many more are there to be supportive. I understand that some queer people are tired of the rainbow being plastered on everything. I understand that some companies are just pandering to our pocketbooks. I know that some people just like to come out and party. I understand all this, but I still think it’s important. We’re still fighting for our rights and acceptance, and every little bit of support and community is very helpful.
Our community is diverse and beautiful. I cannot speak for every part of it, nor even for every lesbian. We are individuals, but we are tied together by common threads. I’ll be attending the pride festivals once again this year, marching in the Dyke March, and waiting anxiously for the Supreme Court to rule on our right to marry. Happy Pride!
Your assignment, should you choose to accept it:
247. Attend Pride festivities in your local area. If you are not part of the LGBTQI community, attend as an ally and learn about the rich variety of gay people out there beyond television stereotypes. For extra credit, go to Wikipedia and check out Stonewall to see why we started marching.
Your link, should you desire to follow it: