Thursday, June 06, 2013

Why should Pride be respectable?

Every year about this time, the same sort of debate arises about the evils of Pride. See, for instance, Patrick Range McDonald's takedown of LA Pride. 
There are those who see Pride as outmoded, as childish, as a celebration of all that is wrong with the gay world—and it is mostly about what is wrong with gay men, there is little worry about Dykes on Bikes. It's go-go boys and muscle queens (and drag queens) drinking and drugging and grinding up on one another. It's immature and sexualized and—American puritanism being what it is—sinful and shameful.
The other half, an old high school buddy, and the author at last year's Pride.
It should be, they say, a celebration of all our heroes. The piece above picks out Bayard Rustin, Ludwig Wittgenstein, and others. It leaves out good old Alan Turing, maybe because he was proud of the sex part of his sexuality. We should come together to reflect and share and work towards equality. In short, Pride should be both a political event and an opportunity to put our best face forward.
Of course, much of this discourse directly parallels that of the people who show up at Pride events to protest against the evil, slutty gays. It often goes further to say that we end up being treated as degenerates because of how degenerate we are. No one ever seems to see that this is the "if she didn't want to be raped she shouldn't have dressed that way" argument. So, it seems that when I get called "faggot" because I am walking the dog with my partner, I should blame Pride events. 
If only we were more respectable, we would be more respected. Thus it always is with minorities; we are supposed to make ourselves presentable to others, so they won't beat us up or fire us. But, why? There's a lot to celebrate in gay history—sometimes I think less in the gay present, but I am a curmudgeon—composers, authors, artists, philosophers, scientists, adventurers, the founder of Boy Scouting, .... 
But that isn't what Pride is primarily about (and it hasn't been for a long time). Pride is a party. It might not be the kind of party everyone wants to attend, but it's still a party. And, it's a party for the community, not for others. I don't get a say in what goes on in other cultural celebrations; they don't get a say in what goes on in mine. It isn't about them (or equality or other political goals), it's about us. 
And, it is about a bunch of drag queens and hustlers and old queens who wanted to be allowed to drink and grind and whatever in a bar in New York many years ago. That is, about some people who wanted to be allowed to be perverts. 
There is plenty of time to be rational and political and attend whatever HRC or homocon event you want to. This is time to leave Apollo and get a little Dionysian. 

If you want to argue that Pride has been co-opted by corporate America and that is a bad thing, you will get a sympathetic hearing from me. Just don't tell me that it has to be something the Cleavers would have found wholesome and edifying.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Great post. I just wrote a post about his negative Pride article too.