Someone asked me today if I plan to attend “Pride”. The answer is an inconclusive “No.” If human beings learn by association and experience, I have many different reasons why my association and experience with a Pride celebration in Louisiana might never happen again this year. I live in Baton Rouge. I’ve visited Lafayette. I’ve poked around Bourbon and St Ann. Yes, I’ve gone to New Orleans to “see” the spectacle. But I’ve never had a moment during Pride that made me scream: “This… now this is where it’s at.”
The last time I actually enjoyed anything remotely related to Gay Pride, I was drunk and lonely. Being drunk and lonely is something I can experience right in my own living quarters. The rowdy and bawdy cast of characters that I’ve observed at Pride celebrations only made me feel self-conscious. I’ve gone to support friends, associates, and others.
And each time… these few report that they enjoyed it.
I guess I cannot get this image of “rowdy and bawdy” out of my head. That’s how it feels when I think of “PRIDE” as a party. I can make up my own party. I don’t desire that wave of nervousness I get when same drag performer doesn’t notice me in the audience. I don’t need any aloofness and numbing when seeking to ingratiate myself with an endless loop of Barbie and Ken types that won’t give me even greet me.
I have too many tally marks in my mental notes when it comes how often I was left mid-dialogue sitting alone. No one is going to ask me why I’m actually there. No one will care about who I came with. I can only think of two Pride occasions when I actually had a conversation that lasted more than five minutes.
Why get that Jack and Coke or that Bud Light if the purpose of “Pride” is marketed as the grand slam connecting experience that just falls flat? The artistry of Pride celebration has never actually been a beacon of “connection” or “presence” for me.
I support GLBTQIA rights even though the order of the letters change. I didn’t know that some people believe that the “L” not coming before the G was perceived as hurtful when observing the relevant power of the MeToo movement.
I am a supporter of healthy same-sex and same-gender relationships, because I see each member of (said community) as a person that I have to get to know before I get stuck in judgment.
But there is only so much sex and sexuality I can discuss before I start losing brain cells. Sex, Sexuality and Gender Identity are totems of study for GLBTQIA immersion. And I’ve actually gotten bored hearing the same kinds of stories from the same kinds of people.
When you have a healthy amount of pride in something, you should feel connected to it. You should feel included in the conversation about it. You should feel like your opinion about that something matters enough.
I’m glad that people can support their gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered loved ones. I value that people are sharing that love with each other. I guess I feel less connected to the atmosphere that “PRIDE” advertises because there are still so many things about it that have let me down. Sure, support a friend or family member. But if it’s you… and you’ve never felt welcomed and you were always suffocated and thought of as invisible why fake your way through a party that seems so neurotically bombastic and so casually rancorous?
I guess I’m still not totally convinced that gay youth have all the proper supports they would need to develop into powerful, passionate, loving gay adults. I guess I’m rendered speechless when I look at how the gay community is struggling to address the one sided messaging that gay people come in only “white and white-ish” colors and identities. I guess I’m still wondering what happens to the men and women who don’t frequent the drag joints, strip clubs, and speakeasies—and know they are gay.
What happens to them? Who are their idols, mentors, and contemporaries? And what has truly changed since the tragedy of the Pulse Nightclub massacre. Have Americans properly addressed how the concept of “gay pride” is really satirical for some given that Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen are two sides of a media landscape that still markets the gay community as a “club of others”, rather than a complex and fractured group of people. I’ve noticed how the black community and the gay community are common in their style of shared community. I gawk at how the same points of entry are not always the best point of entry for newer generations. How many pieces of fried chicken does one have to eat before the black cards are issued? How many drag performances does a gay man attend before he’s one of the “members”?
I know those are cliche’ examples. But can anyone see how predictable these cultural norms get after years of watching the same revolving doors?
I have much more to understand about gay pride. I have much to still know about African American pride. I have more to uncover about “PRIDE” in general. I can’t go around celebrating something all willy-nilly if there’s all this allegory hidden deep within that keeps giving me nightmares. I think too much. But wouldn’t you rather a person that asks relevant questions, than a simple brat that just did everything everyone else did with any true purpose?
I’m proud that I’m lucky enough to support my gay friends and still ask tons of piercing, authentic, sobering questions.
I’m proud of that. And I’ll choose that until I’m satisfied. Because some people connect to communities to forget, to go offline, to fantasize a life outside of their own. I connect to gain access, to build relationship, to discover some unknown terrain.