Monday, June 24, 2013

Homo say what?

I read a blog on the LA WEEKLY site today called Is L.A. Gay Pride an Outdated, Adolescent Mess? and it really made me stop and think. You can follow the link above to read the story for yourself, go ahead, I will wait. While I am sure there are plenty of people who agree 100% with this post, I want to provide the other side to the story. I am going to break the post down and relay my feelings on the key points that are made about Gay Pride being outdated and a mess.

"Are we coming off passe and immature by still celebrating our gay heritage as if we're a bunch of horny, drunk 19-year-olds who came out of the closet a few weekends ago?"

I would say yes, some of us are coming off as horny, drunk 19 year old guys who just came out of the closet, because that is where they are in life. Didn't we all go through that phase? This however is merely a small percentage of the people at Pride. Head to your local Applebee's on a Friday night and see if you don't see people there acting the same way. When we only look at one portion of a thing, we can find any result or conclusion that we want. You want to see drunk horny fools? Check out Mardi Gras. Notice though that there are plenty of people at all these events drinking responsibly or not drinking at all.

"A number of gay men and those in the larger LGBT community have begun to see L.A. Pride as a sad spectacle, particularly since being gay is much more than wearing trendy clothes, sporting tattoos and muscles, and sleeping with whomever comes your way."

Again, this is not just a gay phenomenon, look all around and you will find plenty of trendy clothes wearing, tattooed muscle jocks hitting on anything that moves. America loved Jersey Shore, I guess straight people get a pass. 

"Yet once again L.A. Pride will bring out the go-go boys and cock rings, will be partly underwritten by liquor companies, and will celebrate stereotypes and outdated notions of what it means to be gay."

Check out any event you go to and see if there isn't a beer, wine or liquor company sponsoring it. I run 5k and half marathons and every time you cross the finish line there is a beer company waiting patiently to serve you there goods. A beer sponsor at NASCAR, why is that any different? Who sponsored the last Mardi Gras or St. Patrick's Day parade you attended? What about the last sporting event you attended, was there a beer sponsor? Why wouldn't a beer or liquor company want to sponsor an event where people drink their products? Sounds like a sound marketing plan to me.

Celebrating stereotypes? What about celebrating the people behind those stereotypes? Yes, people may have strong opinions about things they are not comfortable with, but does that make them something that should be viewed as negative? Maybe you aren't enticed by leather or drag or glittery boy shorts, but that doesn't mean that the people who enjoy these things shouldn't be able to come to Pride and be proud of who they are. If you see something you don't like, move on down the line. If you were at a music festival and the band in front of you was playing jazz and you don't like jazz, wouldn't you just walk to the next stage? Oh look, country music, you like that. Did your day at the music fest just get better? Look all around, I am sure you will find a niche that will fit your comfort levels and lifestyle. Better yet, talk to someone who maybe doesn't fit your "comfort mold", you might be surprised what you could learn about other people and maybe even about yourself.

"And then we'll wonder why certain straight folks don't take us seriously or think we're stuck in some kind of "Peter Pan syndrome" -- and we'll cry bloody murder when we're treated poorly."

Before I came out I used to see news reports of Pride events and wonder why they always showed the people covered in glitter, the drag performers, or the muscle guys in the leather jockstraps, but once I started attending myself, I realized it wasn't because those were the only people there. It was what the news stations wanted to flash on their screens for shock and ratings. Yes there is plenty of shock value at Pride, but if that is all you see, then you aren't even looking.

Peter Pan syndrome, yes it's out there, but think of it like this. Imagine being a gay youth who is in the closet. You spend your adolescent years repressing everything about yourself and when you finally come out, you realize you get to start fully living again. You have some catching up to do, maybe some people got partying, clubbing, trendy fashions or other things out of their systems as they progressed, but you are just getting exposed to these things. Why does age even matter here? Once again, be yourself. Want to wear a beanie at 50? Do it. Want to wear what the younger generation wears? Do it. Want to stay out all night clubbing? Why shouldn't you? Some people may have stuff to say about it, but just let that be their issue, not yours
"To simply maintain our right to party and hook up with whomever we wish seems so 1970s, doesn't it? So, ah, adolescent."

Visit any trendy nightclub and you will find plenty of straight people partying and hooking up with whomever they choose as well. Scan the "romance" section of Craigslist or similar sites and you will find plenty of straight people looking for random hookups. Gays didn't invent promiscuity, it is a practice in which both gay and straight men and women partake. 

"Heck, let's get real: Is L.A. Pride about celebrating the special spirit of gay folks or filling the cash registers of West Hollywood nightclubs and bars?"

Why can't it be both? More importantly, why shouldn't it be both? Gay businesses need the support of the community. As gay men and women, shouldn't we want to give our money to those businesses that support us?

Having said all that, the post does have a couple of great ideas and they deserve to be mentioned as well.

"Maybe we should bring L.A. Pride back to its roots and make it once again a political statement. To highlight our contributions to society, and to reach out in meaningful ways to our straight allies, our parents, and extended families."

"Maybe we should highlight a particular battle we're fighting on the front lines of gay rights and make that the centerpiece of the gay pride parade, rather than make a straight celebrity a grand marshal, which then diverts publicity toward him or her and away from the important issues we're facing."

Both of these statements are great ideas. I see nothing wrong with adding more awareness to GLBT causes and important GLBT community members, but there needs to be a nice balance. Pride should always be about being able to be 100% yourself in a place surrounded by people who  love and support you. What more can we do to make Pride a tool for equality? It is a point worth investigating.

This Pride season, get out and have fun, but remember those who came before us and all that they have done to get us where we are today!! Maybe one day when we have 100% TRUE equality around the world, we won't need Pride anymore, but until then, you can find me at Pride!

Do you agree with the original post, with me or somewhere in between? Please leave your comments below and feel free to share this post on all your favorite social media outlets. Thanks again for reading, I appreciate it as always.

1 comment:

  1. I get the impression for the original article that the author is tired of one aspect of the parade. Sounds a little like sour grapes to me. Also, if we got rid of every float that offended someone...we wouldn't have a pride parade left.

    It's OK for cheerleaders to strut their stuff at homecoming parades or for women dressed up as show girls at mardi gras to do the same? Gay people have to be in suits and ties?