June 22, 2005

Before The Fall

It's Gay Pride week again.
I find myself alternately loving and hating Pride.
The idealist half (OK, the idealist third. Not buying it? The idealist eighth? Sixteenth? Oh fuck it. I have idealist parts. Seriously. My uvula has a great outlook on life. I maintain that my wisdom teeth were also bright-eyed optimists, but they're long gone now.) is, at least once during every Pride, moved to tears by how far we've come.
I think about how things are in other countries, like Iran, or Kansas, and realize that as a gay man in New York, I've got a better life than I could have even dreamed of 10 years ago. Better than some still dare to imagine.
I can kiss my (theoretical) boyfriend on the street in the middle of the day without fear of arrest or physical violence. Marriage is a real possibility. My family loves and accepts me, to the point where my father has left the Republican Party based upon their treatment of me and my friends (ok, not us specifically, but you get the idea), my sister comes out clubbing with me, my brother talks sex with me and my mother... well, she was always a fag hag, so no change there.
We have our own bars, magazines, and TV channels. There are now more openly gay celebrities and politicians than ever. A good portion of the country is engaged in the gay rights debate on both sides. And if we aren't winning, we're at least educating people and letting them know that we aren't going to back down.
And for a few brief moments every Gay Pride, I stop and look at the thousands of gays and lesbians in the streets and their supporters who come out, and think about the immense influence of that many people. About just how much power we have in today's society, about how much we could change. About the things that we will change and the ground we're still gaining.

Mind you, this warm fuzzy usually lasts roughly 6 minutes. Then I leave the house and make my way to the parade, where I am inevitably let down by the rest of the gay community. Not that I'm out attending rallies or doing pro bono work or adopting Cambodian children or taking in teenage runaways (mostly because, well, I'm selfish, just like the rest of you), but come on guys.
We, who are impeccably groomed and dressed 364 days out of the year, who know more about culture and manners than an army of Anne Landers, who devote our lives to learning about wine, styling our hair to razor precision and making sure that the shoes always match the belt, spend the entire weekend amplifying everything that is wrong with the gay community.
For those of us who are actually gay, is pride really what we want to be associated with? A mile long parade of dykes (and don't they get their own parade? Why the fuck do they fill ours with their flannel, motorcycles and a deep-seated hatred of all things remotely approaching fun?), news stories featuring drag queens and bizarre floats all about sex and promiscuity? Appearances by the Queer As Folk Cast?!?!! Oh the humanity.

Pride is a debacle. Nudity. Drugs. Condoms thrown at parade goers. No Class. No Style. Granted, some parade floats are topical and many events are about marriage and adoption and equal rights. But that's like saying that several documentaries about the Holocaust opened the same night as Revenge of The Sith; you know which should most capture your attention, but you don't have a choice. Pride is a 400 pound Gay Gorilla. Wearing dayglow spandex and carrying a roman candle. Through a train wreck. A massive marketing strategy that perpetuates the media stereotype that gay men are drug addicted whores who like to dress in drag and dance to house divas with their hands in the air. (Yes, I see the irony, but in my defense I don't do drag). One look at pride settles it: the gay community needs a PR rep (again, I see the irony). Why do we act like assholes the ONE DAY the whole country is watching us?
But then you have to think about other parades. The St. Partick's Day Parade is an AA meeting with a permit and hats purchased at Party City. I can't think of a more misguided and embarrassing cultural touchstone. Except maybe Germany's whole obsession with David Hasselhoff. What the hell is going on there?
The Puerto Rican Day Parade once culminated in gang sexual assault in Central Park. Maybe some lapses in fashion judgment and a bit of crude innuendo aren't all that bad.
And you know what? I'll still be there.
Because my first pride ever fell on my birthday, and the gay cheerleaders in the parade got 1,000 people on Union Square North to sing to me.
Because 2 years ago, the day before pride, again on my birthday, the Supreme Court ruled that no state can make sex between 2 people of the same gender illegal, thereby advancing the idea that gay people are not defined by just sex, and that we should be afforded the same privacy as everyone else, and should be left to love who they want in whatever manner they wish.
Because I can't imagine for the life of me what it must have been like for those that came before me. For the guys who were at Stonewall. For Matthew Sheppard. For every nameless gay man or woman who got married, got beaten, got killed, committed suicide, hid from their family, hid from themselves, lived in fear or simply didn't allow themselves to live at all.
Because those 6 initial minutes are worth it. Because when the fireworks go off at the end of the pier, and I've been partying with my friends for 48 hours straight and I've sold my sister to visiting German Lesbians to buy money for tickets to another club, I can put my arms around my friends, family, or even total strangers, and smile simply because I'm there. Because I have the opportunity to be there.

4 Comments:

Blogger hofzinser said...

Great fucking post.

So honest and self-aware.

Damn, Dan, you out did yourself.

damn.

I got nothing to add.... you covered it.

1:51 PM  
Blogger DjGino said...

Couldn't have said it any better.
Kudos.

2:15 PM  
Blogger Becka said...

I'm still laughing at the Kansas line. I spent some of my formative years there (I absolutely refuse to say I am from there, even if I spent a majority of my adolescence there) and you are 100% right. Those people are freaking psychos.

6:24 PM  
Blogger quicksand said...

SO, YOU HAVE TO DEAL WITH SOME GAUDY BEHAVIOR IN THE GAY WORLD.
LET ME ASSURE YOU THAT HERE, IN THE STRAIGHT WORLD, THINGS CAN GET UBER-GARISH. WE INVENTED AND PERFECTED POOR TASTE. SURE, GAYS CAN DO VULGAR...BUT STRAIGHTS CAN DO IT WITHOUT A NET OR CLASS.
(NOTE: MY KEYBOARD WAS MADE IN UKRAINE. THUS, NO CAP UNLOCK KEY )

11:58 AM  

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