This last weekend I went to the Gay Pride Parade here in New York. I've got tons of thoughts about it which I'll sort out in the coming days, but I'll save the long analysis for another day. The short of it is I still think the day and the parade are significant. Call it a parade or a march or whatever, it matters to me that it can and does happen. This is partially in response to comments friends have made over the years, invariably other urban homos for whom being gay can easily be a casual part of their life, just one more thing about them and nothing that threatens their safety or livelihood.
A number of years back, a friend wrote a "gay shame" email complaining about 'what gay pride has become' and I began a response which got lost in my email drafts. I'm all about digging up old things and subjecting them to scrutiny, so here from the vaults is my response to these curmudgeons who blush at the commercialism and flamboyance of our numbers let loose in the streets each year (there are a few comments in here which I know might ruffle a feather or two and strike me now as mildly offensive but I leave in for historical accuracy; please hold full judgement for my forthcoming modern update, reflecting on my most recent Pride experience):
At this point in my life and with all the bizzare that I have seen around me, I have come to love the things that just make life surreal. We all know that there is nothing more surreal than Pride events. I like that they exist, I like that people go crazy, I like that there are middle aged men who have reduced all their goals in life to basically just trying to look the most like an exaggerated charicature of a musclebound adolescent Ken doll.
I like all of this of course in theory. Not unlike communism, it just isn't funny when you apply it to real people. But I guess I can still enjoy the spectacle and the hoopla, and anything that really gets under the skin of the religious right is ok by me. Just look at it like you would a freak show or a scary movie or a highschool valedictorian delivering an impassioned speech: take it very serious while you watch it so you can enjoy the full effect but only remember the really comical bits and repeat them to your friends.
People know that the section at pride isn't the only section of the gay world. We do look rather funny when mixed all together like that, but it is fun. Sure the drag queens and dykes on bikes get all the air time, but everyone gets to throw their own party. And I will tell you, Pride isn't important to the people who attend who live in those cities where they have them; they are important to the terrified closeted fags who are living on the front lines out in bumfuck (what a fitting name) nowhere who just need there to be some gay presence that makes itself felt and lets them know that something else exists.
So you say it doesn't set a good example for them, showing them a big event that is just a bunch of half naked muscle clones and men in tiaras? Well, it isn't any worse than any homecoming parade anywhere in the country. At least at the Pride parades we have grown men and women dressing any damn way they choose instead of the town's pretty adolescents dressed up in team hoochie gear to shake it for their parents and neighbors. Every week in the fall the girls get thrown into the air to better spread their legs and show their crotches to the crowd while the boy don stretch pants,codpieces, and shoulder pads and slam into each other for the thrill of the community. The difference between a highschool football game and a gay pride parade is the lack of violence and pedophilia in the latter.