Saturday, June 28, 2008

Gay Pride Day

Today is designated as Gay Pride Day, marking the date of the Stonewall riots in 1969 and culminating a month of gay pride parades, events, and remembrances for the LGBT community. In the past I’ve attended my share of parades and festivities and I’ve had a good time at them, enjoying seeing the crowds of people — gay, straight and whatever — participating and just having a good time with friends and family.

And that’s the whole point. Just having the simple pleasure of being with people we like and love and not being afraid to be who we are, to share our lives with the person of our choice, and not feel as if I have to have the permission of other people to be treated as a citizen of this country with all the rights and responsibilities that come with it. Nothing more, but nothing less.

I’m not a huge flag waver. I don’t have a rainbow flag on my car, and I don’t wear symbols of my gayness on my lapel or my sleeve. I don’t have a problem with people who do, but it’s just not me. If people are going to take me for what I am, then they can do it without a semiotic clue or a preconceived idea. It’s probably my Quaker philosophy coming through, but I believe in leading in silence and letting my life be the symbol of what I am.

Also, I’m not sure if “pride” is the right word to describe how I feel about being gay. It’s a part of who I am — and always have been — and yet it doesn’t define me any more than the rest of what makes me who I am, so I find it hard to label it. The word “pride” also carries with it a certain amount of exclusion, as if being gay was something that places me on a different plane than other people. I suppose that’s true in some respects, but it also feeds the mindset that being gay is somehow different than any of the other things that make each of us unique, and therefore something to be feared. I’m not proud to be gay, but I’m not ashamed of it, either. I just am.

And maybe that’s what it’s really all about. We have Gay Pride Day to encourage us — all of us — to get to the point where it doesn’t matter if you’re gay or straight or whatever. To those who are out there in the parades and celebrations today, have a great time and take lots of pictures. I’m with you in spirit, firm in the belief that all that really matters is that we get the chance to live a life of peace, simplicity, and the plain ordinariness that we are all promised as citizens of this country. Is that too much or too prideful to ask for?