June is one of my favorite months of the year. It is the beginning of summer. It is the month that Dustin was born. And it is gay pride month. I'll be the first to say I love gay pride, but not everyone does (and I don't mean the right wingers, but other gays). I don't currently have any subscriptions to gay magazines, but I'm sure, if I did, at least one of them would have an article about gay pride being harmful to the movement or unnecessary. I've read one of these articles almost every year since I came out. Why do some gay people like to hate on pride? I don't know for sure, but I have my ideas.
As with any minority group that is still fighting for equal rights, there are disagreements about how to proceed. Gay pride is often seen by the straight community as being confirmation of their greatest fears. Streets across America are filled with boys in short-shorts and drag queens on floats in bright sunlight. Local TV stations like to run clips of dykes on bikes and big leather daddies swinging whips and pretend this is the entirety of the gay community. I can see how some might see this as harmful to the image of the gay rights movement.
But gay pride is not actually about anyone else. It is about the gay community, and that community is diverse and fascinating, which is why I love it. For me, June is a month where I can stop defending myself and my rights and can celebrate who I am, my community, and my history. It is a time of the year where the other parts of life don't matter. I can immerse myself in gay events and have fun. This doesn't mean the fight for equality ends or is forgotten, but June is a breather. Let the local TV stations say what they want. People who will classify gay people in those terms will do so with or without footage of gay pride parades or events.
Pride is about having a good time. It is about parties, drag queens, porn stars, rainbow flags, but it is also about embracing your heritage and the people around you (literally and figuratively). I'm a huge believer in knowing your own history, and I encourage gay people to find that history and read about it. It hurts me greatly when people don't know the stories of the men and women who have come before us or don't know how important gay men and women have been to this country. We have contributed and continue to contribute to a society that attempts to push us away, hide us in a closet, and strip us of our rights.
June is a month to recharge. To stand in a mass of gay people and to feel connected. Some gay people are afraid to do this. They have convinced themselves they aren't really part of the gay community or that they want to live a "normal" life. I'm not saying you need to drink, have random sex, or dress in drag (though all of those things can be quite fun), but you do need to take a moment and acknowledge what it means to be gay.
Do we need pride? Yes, we do. Everyday I am reminded by something that I am not free in this country and that I am considered some abomination or that I'm something to fear. I don't think most straight people understand how much hatred a gay person hears on a daily basis (intended or not). And I think most gay people don't know either, because we've learned to deal. Our skin has grown thick, but the hate is still there. I drive to work each day listening to NPR and leaders of our country saying we can't just let gay men and women serve openly. That suddenly ending DADT would be a social experiment. Or I walk out of the mall and a kid calls me a fag. Or I go to work and everyone talks about getting married, something I do not have the right to do. There are reminders everywhere.
Pride serves as a different kind of reminder. A reminder that I am a human being, and that I deserve respect, love, and equal rights. I am going to spend this June being as gay as possible. I am beginning my month with Gay Days (one of the biggest gay events in the country that happens right here in Orlando). I will also be venturing to Sawmill for a weekend away with Dustin and friends. Sawmill is a gay campground. I will also be celebrating Dustin's birthday and then maybe catching gay pride in St. Pete at the end of the month. As I do all of these events, I will be thinking how lucky I am to be out and proud and how I wouldn't change a thing about who I am.