Monday, March 7, 2011

The Politics of Pride

So, I'd initially intended to start this blog at the beginning of the year. And then things happened, and most of my new years ish resolution type goals all kind of.. didn't happen. Which I guess follows in a long and noble tradition of failing to see your new years plans come to life.

However, I have a thought on a matter, and I think I've finally figured out how to accurately describe my feelings about it. So here I go.
I wrote a post on my last blogthing about Why I chose to be a part of the Pride Calgary Planning Committee for Pride 2010. And I should start by saying that I am no longer on this committee, solely because in under two weeks I'm going to be leaving for another city, and it just didn't make sense to stay on. But here's the thing- I hold Pride very close to my heart. And not just Pride Calgary, or Edmonton Pride, but Pride. All around the world, Pride matters to me. And one of the most frustrating questions I ever deal with is- Why Would I Want To Participate In That?

And here's why.

1) Pride isn't just about you. I mean, it's about You. But it's about other people, too.

I understand, for a lot of homosexual individuals, Pride might not be your cup of tea. That is, when you consider Pride to be a bunch of half naked men and women (or, let's be honest, mostly naked) dancing on floats. I understand that, for the more conservative of the bunch, it can seem overwhelming. In fact, you  might think, Pride doesn't really represent me, so why would I want to be a part of it?

Guess what. There's a reason it doesn't represent you. And that's because you're sitting at home being a sally-side-whiner instead of getting involved. Okay, so you don't feel like that's what you want representing you. Stop complaining, and represent your damn self.

Or, okay, let's blame the news media, for only portraying that portion of the parade or the events to the people at large- get involved in that regard. Write a letter to the editor. Talk to your local news station. Contact the editor of your daily paper and formally (and politely) request that they attempt to provide a more well-rounded piece of news than just photos of drag queens in elaborate head-dresses.

I mean, that sells papers, but at the same time, it leaves out a lot of what's going on.

What it comes down to is that you can't complain about something you're not willing to provide an alternative to. Or, rather, you can, but then I'm likely going to tune you out, or learn very quickly that your opinion is a pretty shallow one. So enter the parade and stand there, fully clothed, on a politically-minded float. Throw an event that focusses on queer art, on queer academics, on queer anything.

Just get involved. If Pride doesn't give you a reason to celebrate, give yourself and others like you a reason to celebrate Pride by making it your own.

2) Pride is being able to Safely Publicly Acknowledge Your Sexual Orientation

That's it, really. It's about celebrating the fact that we live in a place where Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgendered, Two-Spirited, Questioning, and Queer individuals are able to be GLBT and/or Q without being persecuted for that fact.

And, yeah, to the casual bystander it might appear to be a celebration of sex and promiscuity. But I'd like to think that the Politics of Pride (conveniently enough also the name of an amazing film re: Pride celebrations worldwide) are there as well. That if you take a step back you can appreciate both the progress that a pride celebration represents, as well as the struggle and triumph it is truly celebrating.

Which leads me to...

3)Pride is about visibility. 

One day, one week, one month. Hell, in some places, one hour or less. That's all it is. It's a reminder to the rest of the heteronormative, at times homophobic world, that there is a GLBTQ community out there, that they're present, and that they are not to be ignored.

And finally, and perhaps most importantly...

4)Pride is a reminder to those struggling to feel it, that It Gets Better. 

Okay, so you knew I was going to go a little Dan Savage on you, right? Well here it is. There are kids right now, kids who are being picked on, mocked, getting the shit kicked out of them on a regular basis. Kids who are afraid to go to school in the morning, kids who are afraid to be open and honest with their friends and family about who they are. And why? Because those kids know that the world is not always kind to people who are different, and that some people- some truly bigoted, hateful, scum sucking people- will hurt them if they're at all honest about their sexuality.

And those kids need to know- for one day, one week, one hour- that it gets better. That high school ends, that there is a world out there that is full of opportunity, and that there is a larger community of people like you or who support you, and that life can get pretty damn fun.

So, if you choose not to participate in the Pride celebrations going on around you, okay. But please, please, stop judging it, stop judging the people that attend, and, for pete's sake, stop bitching about how it doesn't represent you, get off your ass, and represent your damn self. Because, honestly, we're all sick of doing it for you.

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