Is Proud Really Necessary?

It’s Gay Pride weekend here in Chicago and it is a big, big deal. There maybe up to a million and a half people watching the big parade on Sunday by conservative estimates. There have been festivals and dances and singers and performers all month. There’s a big street festival in the lesbian ghetto tomorrow. Everybody dusts off their most outlandish behavior and just goes nuts.

It didn’t used to be this way. I went to see my first Pride Parade in 1976. Police arrested people for lewd behavior/public drunkenness/whateveredness just because they could. There were a couple of crappy little floats from big bars. It was over in 1/2 hour. People were afraid to go back in those days what if somebody sees me? Well, they’re there too right??? But whatever. People still had slot of fear of being out of the closet.

I was arrested one year for holding my fuck-buddy’s hand. I was involved in a big riot one year when a cop arrested several leather guys for something I don’t even recall. The demonstration went all the way around the cop station.

Newspaper coverage used to be atrocious. The day after the parade there would inevitably be a front page slam of the event, complete with a picture of two guys humping or some especially odd drag queen stunt.

It used to mean big big trouble to be out of the closet or to be outed. Job/family losses, shame..well you know. And yetthe costs of living a lie were just as grave if not moreso.

I think back on those days and I suppose I can be proud of the activism of those first few of us who refused to be intimidated and who were able to do the activism work to start the acceptance ball rolling. All minorities need to fight their battles for acceptance.

As I look at DADT and the unhappy state of the Marriage fight I have to wonder if perhaps it’s time for us to return to that old-school fight. Yell more, get arrested more. Dmarch more. We are trying to reason with the unreasonable Nd it just is not working.

We need to be out. We need to be visible. We need to create a ruckus. Old-school.

I was in AA for 2 years or so after I quit drinking/drugging. It seemed to me that these people who were going for five years, ten years, fifteen…..were still alcoholics but who just weren’t engaging in the behavior. They were fundamentally defining themselves as beings connected to alcohol. Which was really just not the case for me.

I suppose that is how I feel about being a “Proud” lesbian. I don’t think I should have to be proud of who I am
Any more than I should make it a point to be proud of my many many many freckles. Or of the fact that I have three cats.

But I have to be Proud. Because I am a part of a minority that is being denied basic civil rights I have to keep the fight going. I have to have a gay flag on my car. I have to put hashtags on my tweets. I have to stand up and be counted. Because somebody else out there feels that they cannot and somebody needs to fight the fight for them.

I am proud of my part in the fight I suppose. That I insist people deal with me. Proud of how far my city has come.

But I’d really prefer to be able to just be me, to be proud of Stonewall and the history of my people. But not especially of my life now.

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12 Comments

  1. Aliquant said,

    June 25, 2010 at 4:35 pm

    Hey Splinty,

    Having had my teenage years in the 90s, I’ve always been massively grateful to those older than me who fought for equality, because it’s down to them that I had a relatively easy time when I started going out with girls in public instead of guys.
    I had no idea you were one of those people I’ve always admired – I consider myself very lucky to have had people like you lay those foundations. You’re right, we’ve still got a long way to go, we need equal marriage rights and to not need to have discrimination laws and feeling proud of ourselves; but without activsts like you doing all the groundwork we’d have nothing now upon which to build.
    Thank you for what you did, from the bottom of my heart

    Ali x

    • June 25, 2010 at 7:22 pm

      Aww, that’s so sweet hon, thank you. You would have done the same. Justan accident of the calendar. But it was tough at times I will say that. I was called dyke and queer and homo and faggot (yes) more times than I remember. I was hit once with a tomato and once I was spit on (pre-AIDS days). I went thru those first tough years of the AIDS epidemic when gay men were dropping like flies and nobody gave a shit

      that was the hardest, losing friends to the fag flu.

  2. June 26, 2010 at 1:17 am

    London pride next weekend and I feel the same – its not about awareness or rights. We have a charity group (called stonewall) who work for gay rights and since winning civil partnership rights (like marriage) there’s nothing much else to work for… bullying in schools… stuff like that.

    One thing that is interesting and worth remembering – a couple of years ago after London pride I found myself in Dublin when it happened to be gay pride (remember, mostly catholic country) and there was a HUGE different. In London it was thousands of people marching and making big noise on whistles etc, with silent staring crowds. In Dublin it was 100s of people marching, not so much noise and the **crowds** were cheering – one woman shouted out something encouraging to us with tears pouring down her face.

    So when I do/see London pride I kind of think about doing it for the countries where people still cry for the rights they’ll never have.

    Or something

    Rant over.

    x

    • June 26, 2010 at 4:49 am

      Yes. Thanks for giving me the international perspective hon. As I said, for those who can’t, right?

  3. me said,

    June 26, 2010 at 2:51 am

    Ja we have to be visible, be loud, be proud..for those who still can’t (thinking of a lot of ppl here) + ja we have to still fight fight fight hard.

    • June 26, 2010 at 12:50 pm

      Yes, we do. Suppose that there are days when I realize how far we’ve come, in the US anyway. And other days I’m stunned at how far we have to go. Gets annoying.

  4. Pandora said,

    June 26, 2010 at 1:34 pm

    Just want to second Ali’s remarks Splint; I have always admired those people who stood proudly up for gay rights when the world derided them completely. Things certainly aren’t perfect now, but thanks to sustained efforts fighting discrimination they are at least better</strong. A lit better, thankfully.

    You are to be applauded, my dear friend 🙂

    *Big hugs* ❤ xxx

    • June 26, 2010 at 2:09 pm

      Aww shucks. I just like being a loudmouth. Except for the early days of the AIDS crisis. I remember the day they isolated the virus. Years and years of American queers just..dying. Hit Cgo really hard. That was heartbreaking work.

      Otherwise though just me being a bitch. But thanks hon.

  5. elena said,

    June 27, 2010 at 10:09 pm

    are U kidding:: don’t ask don’t tell. gay marraige banned. equality for all is still unmet.

    • June 28, 2010 at 5:20 am

      I hear you. Frankly from my perspective these basic civil rights issues are very important. Totally agree. Hnfortunately, one reaches a point, after 35 years or so of fighting, when ya just want to be able to be human. I suppose in some ways this is a mesage to the next generation to pls get off your asses and organize. Instead of trying to reason w/the unreasonable–fight. Because until you get ur act together I still have to do the fight. And yes it dies get old.

  6. Susan said,

    June 29, 2010 at 8:27 pm

    I admire what you are doingand have done. Equality for all would be the beginning of nirvana perhaps:)


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