A Pride Parade Isn’t About You

Let me start this by saying this is only what I see. It is an attempt to answer a question that I am, very probably, not qualified to answer. If I am wrong, please send me a comment and let me know, I’ll be more than happy for the insight and correction.

I was in a conversation, yesterday. The gist of the conversation, from the perspective of the guy that had taken issue with my stance, was “I am all for equal rights but, why do they have to throw it in my face? Why do they have to have parades and stuff so that I can not ignore them? I don’t wanna see that”.

This is what I see. This is a bit of a muddle and going to, probably, contradict itself. Being gay or straight is not entirely about sex. Sure, physical attraction is a part of it but, BIG but, not all of it. Who we love might start with physical attraction but, it is more mental. It is how you, at your most private self, identify. I am not a psychologist and do not even pretend to understand the mechanisms of attraction or identity. What I do see is that identity is so very individual that we can not just lump people into groups without asking each individual.

At the same time, humans are “pack” animals. We want to be part of a group. I know I do. We join groups all the time. There are so many that we belong to that we could not even name the ones that we each think of ourselves as members of.

Here comes the problem. We also assign others to groups. Those groups fall into two categories, us and them. “Straight society” is very probably the worst at that. We have assigned everyone that is not straight into “them”. So, given that the majority has assigned “them” into a group and then marginalized them, they do something to celebrate. They say “if you want me to be an outcast, fine, me and my friends will tell each other that we belong to THIS group and we are proud of the people in it”.

We don’t dress up for others. We don’t cut our hair, wear jewelry, get a tattoo, or any other appearance thing for someone else. We do it for ourselves. A Pride Parade is not for the straight community. It is for a group to celebrate itself. It is for bonding. I will admit a suspicion here based on my view of human behavior. I think that, sometimes, people do things for “shock value”. I think that we decide “if you didn’t like that, you’re gonna hate what comes next”. From that tiny perspective, the guy might be a tiny bit right. That there are some actions by some people that are designed to be “in your face”. So be it. The opposite might well be true, too. What if I decided to tag Z in all the pictures of my wedding. Wouldn’t that be throwing it in her face?

That leads to the next bit of the problem. See, a muddle. We, straight society, forgets that we throw it in their faces all the time. Sure, we have no Straight Pride parades. We don’t have to. You can not turn on a TV without seeing straight couples, wedding shows, or happy hetero families. It is inescapable. We think nothing of public displays of affection. Yet, we say that “that’s disgusting” when we see a gay couple, forgetting that they couldn’t imagine or desire, being straight. We are just as unusual to them as they are to us. We say “that’s uchy” forgetting that the reverse is also true.  “Normal” is in the eye of the person that wears the label. What is normal for you probably isn’t for me.

*sigh*

So, here’s the deal. Love is a deeply personal issue. Gender identity and sexuality are deeply personal. Who I love romantically is not an attempt to do something to someone else. It is something I do with myself and my wife. There is nothing rebellious about being in love, romantically. Who we identify with as non-romantic loved ones is also personal. I don’t begin to understand why I love my “pack”. I really don’t care. I also don’t try to figure out why they love me. That they do is enough.

A Pride Parade is not an attempt to force someone’s identity into your face. It is an attempt at personal expression and group bonding. It isn’t about you.

In the interest of disclosure, this blog is, in some ways, a Pride parade that IS an attempt to be “in your face”. It is entirely an attempt to show that you have nothing to fear from the human that is Z. It is an attempt to get you to see her as a person and not a “them” or, as different. It is what I can do to show that SHE deserves the same “blessings of Liberty” that I take for granted. So, I do point out that she happens to be gay. I wish I didn’t have to. I do not find it unusual that she is. I find that I love the person that she is and that gay is just a part of that. The whole of her is more than the sum of her parts but, because of one part, some of “straight society” has deemed her to be of lessor value. They do not know her. If they did, they would see what I see and, hopefully, realize that, by diminishing her for one part, they are the ones with the loss.

*Sorry for the muddle. If I got it wrong, please comment. If my meager attempt at explaining helped, I’m glad it did.*

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3 comments

  1. Having also proudly served in the Army and in the first Gulf War, my unit–the 890th Transportation Company of the 425th Trans. Brigade–was giving a town long parade when we all arrived safely back home in Green Bay in July of 1991. I have some guilt for that because there have been other service members not greeted so graciously. People thought the Vietnam war was in their face. They didn’t celebrate those brave men and placed them in a similar “them” group. Parades evoke emotion, whether it’s for the Homecoming king and queen, or Memorial Day, or a Pride parade. If you don’t like the subject you don’t have to attend, but it’s still going to roll down main street. And occasionally traffic gets backed up. While you’re stuck in your car, think about why it’s bugging you, if a few moments of understanding of the parade would make the wait easier. You can also just continue to be angry that “they” get a parade at all.

  2. I read what I wrote and, on further thought, wish I had edited this line “Sure, physical attraction is a part of it but, BIG but, not all of it” better. Physical is important at first but, as time goes on becomes secondary to the “person” that is the person you love.

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