June is LGBT Pride month and that means a bunch of Pride events around the United States are taking place. The Seattle Pride Parade and Festival will be happening this weekend, and I'm looking forward to attending it with my friends.
I often hear people griping that "pride" doesn't make sense when it comes to gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgender people because they feel like pride is something you have in your accomplishments - you earn it - and it's not in just what you were born to be. The short-sightedness of this statement is in not recognizing that "pride" means more than just the pride in winning a trophy. It's really about not being ashamed of who we are, and not hiding. So, we have pride in ourselves and we will not hide in the closet because you feel like we're lesser than you.
In 1969, a raid on the Stonewall Inn took place in which numerous gays, lesbians, trans, bisexuals and drag queens were arrested for having committed no other crime than being queer. Please pardon my usage of the word, "queer." I know a lot of people don't like it, but I can only write "LGBT" or "lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgenders" so many times before it gets obnoxious for both of us. Along with the arrests came assaults at the hands of the arresting officers. These types of things had been going on for years, not just at this establishment, so I suppose it was getting tiring, and it was very much so unwarranted. It was also fueled by hatred. This time, though, during this raid, the queers fought back; they rioted.
Now, I'm no history buff, so I may have goofed up a detail or two there, but that's the basics of what would turn out to be the origins of the LGBT Pride Movement. In the wake of this event, numerous organizations formed in order to organize queer rights activism. In years to come, more and more people started coming out. Famous people started coming out. Progress started being made. We, the queer folk, were not going to hide in shame any longer... at least not as a community.
Therein lies the pride. The community can proudly state that we took a stand against oppression, and we still are to this day. We can take pride in all of the battles being won over discrimination in housing, employment, and other services. We can now get on our partner's health plans, we can adopt children, and we can legally wed in more than half the states in this country, with a decision on Federal recognition of same-sex marriages pending. So many things which for centuries we were unable to do. If that doesn't tell you that there's a reason to have pride, I don't know what would convince you.
Now, we still do have those who are closeted for whatever reason. They fear a loss of their life, as they know it, and worry that being out will cause them to lose their friends, family, employment, housing, or may end up with them getting assaulted or killed. These are very real concerns for everyone in the LGBT community. Some people live in areas which are known for not being all that friendly toward our kind. The Pride events give these people a chance to be themselves and live unfettered if only for a few hours.
One of the more annoying things which accompany the argument questioning the validity of the usage of the word "pride," is an inquiry as to why there can't be a "Straight Pride." To answer that I'll point out that there's no reason for one. Every single day is a Straight Pride day. Straight people have never been oppressed by society solely for being straight. They don't have to fight for the right to marry or adopt. They don't have to worry about losing their friends, family, jobs, or housing as a result of coming out as straight. And, paramount to all of that, is that the straight community has largely been responsible for the oppression of all of the other communities. This isn't to say that straight people, as a whole, are a bunch of assholes, or that they're all responsible for our oppression. But the fact of the matter is that it's typically straight people who have been responsible for the onslaught of obstacles in queer lives. And those who are most vocal about their curiosity as to the lack of a Straight Pride Parade, or Festival, are those who tend to be our obstacles. So I'll ask, from where would their pride be derived?
I dislike that that above paragraph could be misconstrued as a criticism against straight people, so I'll reiterate that it's not straight people as a whole who are the enemy. It's that our enemies have mostly been straight. I won't even go into talking about the closeted gays and lesbians who have stood in the way of our progress just to help maintain the façade of their straightness. That's a whole different topic altogether.
If you're going to the Pride events in your town, or traveling to one, whether you be gay, lesbian, bi, transgender, bigender, agender, asexual, straight, or what have you, I do hope you'll have a fabulous time. Be sure and take lots of