Well here we are. It’s Pride week in Columbus, with the Parade kicking off Saturday. I try to make it down when I can if I’m in town. There’s always debate I hear, it’s getting to commercial or too sanitized for the ‘normal’ people. Some of those concerns are legitimate, especially since much of the parade in years past are just groups of employees from X company marching, waving flags and handing out swag with their company logo on it. Good for morale, looks good to the folks at the parade (and the gay community has a lot of spending power)… but who knows if these large corporate organizations and their CEO’s really support gay and human rights as their gay and ally employees march on by. Color me old school but when I see a parade I want to see questionably and creatively engineered contraptions assembled by local groups and small businesses that actively support the cause their marching for. Parades are for the community, showing support and to be seen for whatever cause it is. I think Pride parades are still relevant, from the Stonewall Riots to the shooting at Pulse who’s one year anniversary is today, to be seen and to stand in your truth is still very important. No matter how you identify, you can stand in the truth of who you are with out shame, blame, or hate, and how you define yourself doesn’t oppress or hinder how I identify. Eh… I don’t get the rage some folks feel in trying to legislate behavior. As long as everyone consents who cares?
Anywho, you may have heard about the Abercrombie and Fitch ‘All Pride Matters’ drama. It brought back to my mind again this struggle we have of wanting to be equal and wanting to be included but… eh I may say this poorly, but how sometimes we gotta understand… sometimes it’s not about us.
If the subject of Black Lives Matters, or Women’s Rights/Feminism, Gay Pride, or any group that comes together to demand equal rights, or respect, or just to have fun offends you… if That’s the point where you say ‘All Lives Matter” or “All Pride Matters”… you’re not getting it. I’m a straight white lady, and there’s not a lot in this world I have to fear in the generalities of who I appear to be. I can go on a date, or go places and not have to worry about random people talking shit to me or making assumptions based on my heritage. Yes I have had people come to snap judgements based on what they think is my economic class or religion (when I don’t appear to be Christian), but I don’t have all that much to worry about. I’m not likely to get beat down because of what other people think of who or what I am, and neither are most of my family. However I do have friends and family where that is a legitimate concern. Pulse nightclub could of happened here in Columbus where there’s a very large gay population. I have friends and family that experience harsh judgements and have been attacked just because of their skin color or because they are out as an ‘other’. Once this issue wasn’t as close for me. I grew up in the suburbs and I didn’t know anyone who didn’t look like me or had a different background, and I made unfriendly assumptions based off of my limited sheltered experiences. When I went to college and started meeting people I had a choice, I could cling to what I thought I knew or I could listen to other people and challenge my old ideas.
So, I go to Pride as a straight lady, because I support my friends. I support people knowing themselves and not being ashamed of who they are. I celebrate diversity because there is so much to learn from people who are not like me. I want to share stories, experience, culture, all that. The more we can enjoy one another the less hate there will be. But Pride isn’t about me. When I go into a gay club, it’s not about me. I am a guest, a welcome one but still a guest… and it’s ok that it’s not about me. That’s the thing that bothers me about trying to make everything “equal”. I can recognize that sometimes people who have a background and culture not quite like mine may want to be with like minds and have experiences that aren’t about me. I hear about parties and festivals, and I’m told ‘Oh Sara you would love it, but you are X so unfortunately you can’t be there’ (for the record mostly these are gay/bi male events). With the stories I hear, yeah I get a little jealous because I’m all for a good time, but it’s not about me. My straight lady self would disrupt the flow of my gay bois in their gay boi spaces, because as much as they like me they may not be as comfortable flirting and being themselves because I am there. That would be true of Lesbian only spaces too, or any space where I would be the ‘other’. There are plenty of times and spaces where I am not the ‘other’, where I am among people who are more or less like me, and I can be comfortable and talk freely and be myself without having to care for someone who feels out of place… so why would I impose myself in that way on others? There are also plenty of times were I can have fun and party with folks not like me, that’s actually most of the time because many of my friends are not straight and not white and not female. Just saying, we don’t always have to tag along to all the things all the time. Just because it’s not about us doesn’t mean that we are not as good or worth less. Gay Pride doesn’t diminish straight people, just as Black Lives Matter doesn’t diminish the life of anyone who is not black, etc etc. People who feel marginalized and less than need to be lifted up in and out of their communities, and forming movements is how we can do that. Someone who is on the outside could listen and learn from those movements, and I’d hope think about what that means. Maybe challenge their own biases and try to overcome that. Nobody is perfect, and self work is uncomfortable at best. Nobody ever wants to think of themselves as wrong, rude, or an asshole, but sometimes we are all these things despite our best intentions. When you open yourself to learning, and having honest conversations you can learn to be a better person. That’s what Gay Pride did for me when I was a young ignorant kid. Meeting people who were out, who challenged my world view and the way I thought it was helped me to be a better person. Having people who were not white call me on stuff made me a better person. All we can do is listen as well as speak, because honestly I think communication is the key to all things.
So Happy Pride people. Stay safe!