For some reason I didn’t get my Sunday New York Times yesterday so I missed the special section they had on the gay pride parades and events. That’s okay; I called them and they’ll credit my account. Besides, I spent most of the morning at a playwriting conference wrap-up, and if that’s not a place to demonstrate solidarity with a community — gay, straight, or however one identifies — than I don’t know what is.
The thing is, though, that I’ve never been big on going to a pride parade. It has nothing to do with being closeted or ashamed or even self-conscious about being gay; I got over that back in the Carter administration. I’m just not a parade-type person. The last pride parade I went to was over a decade ago up in Wilton Manors, the enclave in Fort Lauderdale, and while I had a great time, it was more fun to simply watch the people enjoying themselves and speaking out. (I did participate in the gay pride parade on Miami Beach in April, but that was as a favor for a friend driving a car with a political candidate.)
I wholeheartedly support the pride movement and everything it stands for. I also know that these events are gaining more support from the communities that don’t identify themselves by their gender or orientation; religious groups that push back against the institutionalized homophobia of other religious organizations who use gay-bashing as a cudgel and control mechanism. Corporate America is mainstreaming their message of LGBTQ inclusion with gay couples seen in commercials and their marketing. It’s not that they’re suddenly open-minded; it’s that they realize gay people have money, too, but the days are gone when a nation-wide boycott can be ginned up over an ad showing two men hugging after buying a house.
But I also think that gay pride lasts beyond the parades and the Facebook picture profile frames and becomes gay peace. Not that peace means quiet; it means understanding. It goes beyond acceptance; it becomes the norm. Peace is not just the absence of conflict, it is the process of living within a community or a country with the understanding that while there may be different ways of doing things, of having a family, of spiritual seeking or worship, we are all on the same journey and the best way to get there is to be at peace both with oneself and with the person in the next seat.
Just as the Quakers don’t celebrate religious holidays because every day is a holy-day (hence the term), for me every day is gay pride day.