Gay Pride: It's Complicated

Am I a bad gay for saying that it makes me queasy to see that many people getting at least half naked and acting sexually medieval as if it were an obligation of genetics?
Publish date:
June 23, 2011
gay marriage, homosexuality, queers, complicated logic, gay pride

You’d think there’d be some kind of automatic calendar update function for the Internal Department of All Gays alerting to the occasion of Pride festivities, but there is not. I just realized it’s this weekend, and I am now geeking out on my complicated feelings toward Pride, which lean toward total avoidance.

Those two words -- "gay pride" -- evoke my inner "hell yeah" on their own, but when attached to a weekend of partying activate something in my lizard brain that makes my stomach go funny.

Am I a bad gay for saying that it makes me queasy to see that many people getting at least half naked and acting sexually medieval as if it were an obligation of genetics?

Also: the drama. I literally start having panic attacks thinking about the fights I’ve gotten into with girlfriends at Pride, and I’m not the only one who’s gone through this -- one second you’re totally happy, the next you’re terrorizing each other.

Pride can be this amazingly joyful celebration of having the courage to be who you are, and only that. It can also simultaneously inflame all kinds of latent issues about your current relationship, or coming out, or what it means to be gay today. And there is almost always shady shit going down, as it’s an enormous meat market for one weekend only.

It’s true, we’re a large national community of U.S. citizens who are actively, legally discriminated against and oppressed, which burns me up. (Please don't give me the "but marriage is legal in five states, and New York is right on the verge" argument; the civil unions thing is totally insulting, and it's crazy this is even an issue. Plus, all the hate crime and gay suicide is proof we're not considered equal.) Is that enough excuse, on the one weekend we have to represent ourselves in public, to behave like we’ve just been let out of the cages at Guantanamo reserved for family values terrorists for 48 hours only?

I do love to see the lascivious, freaky stuff performed on a stage. I just don't like seeing it as representative of gays in general. Hey homos, what do you say we save that just for us, as our secret thing?

Yes, we deserve public recognition as a huge group of people who exist and love and live just the same as everyone else, and when I'm being really crotchety I think it might be nice to act a little more like we believe this ourselves.

The radical queers (who I love and appreciate and consider myself part of, sometimes) are going to hate me for saying this, but we are NOT different from other people. This “heteronormative” label some queers like to plaster on all things gender binary is totally irrelevant, as I don’t think we’ve had accessible and public gay culture long enough to know what is “heteronormative” (like monogamy, or marriage, or my Mulberry handbag, as one lesbian pointed out) by comparison, or what might be plain human desire.

Not every homo will be grossing out the general public in thongs and body paint or other TMI this weekend, I realize. To be clear, I’m not ripping on this two-day automatic safe zone for transgender and transsexual people. There are plenty of chill singles and couples just walking through, holding hands (or not), beaming with radiance.

And organizations seeking equality or recognition or resources for, say, trans teenagers who’ve been thrown out of their homes, or people who’re victims of hate crimes should definitely be applauded. And my friends and I (and plenty of other regular people) happily watch and cheer and smile and have a fantastic time feeling good about who we are and experiencing that with thousands of others.

And I have to admit, there is a little something that unlocks when you see everyone kissing and laughing and gallivanting, and, on Sunday, the lezzies storming into Washington Square after the Dyke March, jumping into the fountain and generally freaking out the unassuming folks who have congregated there for a nice summer day.

I don’t need a special weekend to feel loved or accepted. But sometimes I’ll take it. I do appreciate Pride because if I’m in the mood, I totally get to be like, “Yeah, that’s right, I am GAY, gay gay gay, and today is MY DAY.”

I otherwise don’t get to represent in public as queer, unless I’m actively and obviously on a date, because I don’t look gay, not one bit, and yes there are many shades of the rainbow and the rainbow I live in must be on another planet. I register a .1 on fine-tuned gaydar. Like, even at queer parties I sometimes get straight-bashed, which is a whole other level of totally messed up.

On one hand, I'm happy being gay isn't the best thing I've got going for me, though on another, this might be part of my problem: Pride forces me to confront my… maybe not shame, but unsettled internal fragments that are still uncomfortable, or acclimating.

This month marks my four-year anniversary of being out, which means until age 29, even though I identified as queer, I was mostly actively heterosexual. So I’m relatively new, and as an amateur, I may be having an amateur thought process on all of this. Bear with me?

And pro gays, if you think I need to go watch a few more “It Gets Better” videos and then check back in, I will.