Why I Like Gay Pride
Before June 28, 1969, gay people lived sort of quietly in America. Some cities had gay nightspots (and seedy places), but there wasn’t really a support system for gay people except for places where you could have easy sex or land a hookup. It was like the only way to express your gayness was through sex. Not everyone was like this, but a lot of people felt that was the only way to show you were gay; discreet sex.
Gay people during this time were also abused. Police picked on them. Gay bashing occurred. Laws were unbelievably homophobic. One night in June (on the 28th in the year of our Lord 1969), a group of gay men (and some drag queens) decided they weren’t going to take it anymore. Police wandered into the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village, Manhattan, NY, and started picking on the patrons there, as usual. The patrons fought back (The Stonewall Riots). Drag queens used their heels as weapons. A movement was born out of being sick and tired of being sick and tired.
Gay people being quiet and “over there” in the closet? No more of that, honey! No longer would gays feel fearful to let others know that they were here, queer, and people had better get used to it, because nothing changed from before except that they would be publicly identified as being gay. This came with a lot of social risks with more beatings, shunning, misconceptions, and continued excommunication from churches and families (the stupidest things ever). So, with this in mind, gay heritage month was established and the long road toward equality began. People finally began to own who they were, and didn’t care who knew about it. “I take up space, just like you do. I’m here and this is the real me.” Living authentically – nothing like it. Like a former pastor said once in his sermon, “If you want to know what it’s like to live free, stop caring about what others think about you.” This is why I celebrate Pride.
June is Gay Heritage Month and the month in which most cities host a gay pride event, if they have one at all. Washington, DC, Los Angeles, and Boston had their main events this past weekend. New York and San Francisco are the weekend of the 29th this year. It brought out many supporters of gay rights, gays who go out all the time, and those who don’t get out socially. It’s nice to see so many people just enjoying themselves with low drama, and enjoying a parade and festival. Even the dances, when everyone is together, is very nice and chill. Everyone is just having a good time. It’s like a public family reunion of sorts.
I spent my weekend enjoying the events for DC Pride. It was a lot of fun to dance Friday, watch the parade with friends on Saturday (and ask “Why is [insert odd group like DC Water] in the parade?”), work the booth with my gym on Sunday at the festival, and watch my friend Billy Winn perform (he did a great job). I saw many people I know but don’t see out often either because they’re not out and about, or I don’t get out as much as I should (I will work on that). I’d like to make real connections with people and not continue the “I know them in passing” way that I’ve done with many of them. Otherwise, aside from being annoyed with the sheer number of people who live in DC that I don’t see often (Where do y’all hang out? At home?), it was a very good weekend. Even the weather wasn’t oppressive.
Do you celebrate Pride? If so, why? How was it for you if your city had one? Do you plan to attend any Pride events in your city this year?