Sunday, June 06, 2010

My First Pride

I went to my first Gay Pride festival today. I've never really had an interest in attending Gay Pride, primarily because I dislike crowds and, secondly, because I often get the impression that Gay Pride is more about partying, debauchery, and pushing people's buttons than it is about simply showing pride in who you are. That may be a false impression, nor do I judge those who use Pride in that manner; it just doesn't represent who I am as a gay person.

The only reason I even went to Pride this year was because the cast from the show I'm doing this summer was performing some numbers for the festival, which not only promotes the show, but celebrates Gay Pride; plus we got in for free. It was completely voluntary, and being the antisocial person I am, I usually don't participate in stuff like that, so I surprised myself when I eagerly chose to participate this time. This is the first Pride I've witnessed in my life since I was excommunicated (in fact, my excommunication anniversary is coming up), and I guess before I was excommunicated, I still had that feeling of remaining true to my duty as a member of the LDS Church and somehow, attending Pride didn't seem like the thing to do. Now I don't feel so beholden to my religion, and I felt free to attend without any extra baggage.

I still don't think Pride is my bag (too many people for my taste), but I will admit it was enjoyable. It was just nice to see people being themselves and having a good time and knowing that no one around them was judging them for it. I loved seeing all the children and pets and families and gay couples holding hands and straight people supporting their gay loved ones. It all seemed so normal (as well I think it should be; would it were that way everywhere). And while, yes, there were some examples of the kind of stereotypical people and activities associated with Gay Pride (drag queens, men wearing very little, protesters, effeminate men yelling things like "We're here, we're queer, get used to it!" (which sounded so cliché to me today), angry lesbians, strange people, etc., they seemed to be in the minority, and I was really pleased that most people there just seemed relatively normal and I didn't feel out of place or anything. I was also impressed with how low-key most people seemed. It just seemed like people we're there to celebrate who they are and enjoying each other's company without getting all "in-your-face" or antagonistic about it.

I found it somewhat ironic that I had attended Sunday School and Testimony Meeting in my home ward and then went straight to Gay Pride, and it also made me wonder how many people there had grown up Mormon and what had their experiences been like? How did they feel about the LDS Church now? I also thought about the facade we sometimes put on as church members pretending that all is well in Zion and living these "Peter Priesthood/Molly Mormon" lives on the outside when there are so many things going on in our lives that our fellow members never see. That also made me think about some of the outrageous things some gay people do to overcompensate for their pride in their homosexuality. I admired the fact that people were being themselves without fear at the festival. One black guy in a kilt was just dancing to the beat of his own drummer. One guy was walking around in cut-offs and heels. Normal-looking couples were just holding hands. Even though I don't necessarily understand each individual's experience, I admire the fact that they have the guts to just be who they feel they are. So many of us hide behind facades in misery.

But that also made me think of the genuine people in my own home ward. My old bishop bore his testimony today, and I looked at him in awe and thought to myself, "This man truly is one of the best followers of Christ I know." He is completely genuine and humble and nonjudgmental and is exactly who he appears to be. It was interesting to see the kind of strange, but apt parallels between a Mormon church ward and a Gay Pride festival, and as a friend said to me today, "It's too bad they're mutually exclusive. It's too bad these two worlds can't come together somehow." I think there are examples of individuals from both sides coming together, and I certainly think both sides are making progress, but I wish Mormonism and homosexuality could somehow reside together unified.

Anyway, I had a good time today. Not sure I feel the need to go again. If I do, I hope Jonah and I can do it together. I really missed him today.

Oh, and by the way, one thing I do not get yet: Gay Republicans. They had a booth set up, and I just thought, "What an oxymoron!"


MoHoHawaii said...

I often get the impression that Gay Pride is more about partying, debauchery, and pushing people's buttons....

The fact that you were allowed to marry your husband is largely due to the sacrifice and activism (that is, "antagonism") of drag queens, bull dykes, nancy boys and other sexual outlaws from Stonewall on. Are you really that unaware of what it took to get us where we are today? I appreciate the fact that you have a more conservative affect (congratulations on being "relatively normal" looking), but for goodness sakes, is according those who are different from you a little dignity too much to ask?

Gay pride started out as serious and very much needed political speech. The fact that it seems like a gaudy carnival today is a sign of how far we've come and how much has been achieved.

On behalf of the drag queens and leather boys of decades past, you're welcome.

Gay LDS Actor said...

I do not dispute what you are saying, MoHoHawaii, nor am I ignorant of the sacrifice and activism of those who have come before me nor do I deny those who want to treat Pride as "a gaudy carnival" their right to do so. I was merely saying that because my impression of it has been a "gaudy carnival," it was something I never was really interested in participating in myself. To each his own. I have no problem with that. But if Pride is all about debauchery, partying, and pushing people's buttons, that's not my style. If it's others', fine.

But what I was trying to say in my post was that I was actually pleased that my perceptions and impressions regarding Pride were mistaken.

And actually, I haven't been allowed to marry my partner yet, so we still have a ways to go, and I think that when straight people see only one version of what it is to be gay, we're sometimes shooting ourselves in the foot. I'm not saying we have to appease straight people and not be ourselves, but I do think if some of the people who oppose gay marriage could have come to the Pride I went to today and seen some of the things I saw, they might not have so many misconceptions about it or be so afraid that were so different or that we have some kind of evil agenda to take over the world with our "gayness."

Different people within the gay culture have different methods and different points-of-view about how to best gain equality. I respect that other people feel differently about this than I do and I respect their right to act as they please regarding these issues, and I also appreciate the history of what it took to get us to this point. Maybe a little antagonism is what we still need to get where we want to go, but that's not my personal nature or method, and I won't apologize for feeling that way.

I admire the drag queens and leather boys for their ability to be who they are without fear. I admire the people who dress or act outlandishly. In many ways, they are stronger than I am. I certainly didn't intend to disparage anyone or minimize them. I'm just saying I'm not that guy. There's nothing wrong with them or me; we're just operating from different angles. I even saw and hugged a drag queen friend of mine today who is of the generation you speak of. I do not think less of him because of who he is or judge him for who he is. I'm glad he has done the things I probably would have been unable to do myself to help get us where we are. I'm sorry if my comments were misinterpreted or misconstrued.

Ren said...

I'll be bailing after sacrament in a couple weeks so I can walk in the Pride parade with the mayor & other DFLers (the Dem party in MN) here in Minneapolis. What's kind of nice here is that Pride is a HUGE event (over half a million people attend) that draws corporate sponsorship and a lot of straight people.

I get what you mean about the Log Cabin people but I suppose people would find it ironic to be gay or support lgbt rights as a Mormon is an oxymoron, too. :)

I was at the DFL pride booth across from the Log Cabin folks last year. They didn't get a lot of visitors. I am a former conservative who always supported lgbt rights. But when I found myself disagreeing with conservatives on many more issues including the economy, I stepped back and rethought how much I had in common with them. I imagine there's lgbt people who put the gay rights issue on a shelf because they align with them in other ways.

Gay LDS Actor said...

Yeah, there weren't a whole lot of visitors to the Log Cabin Republican booth here either (except to argue with them).

Good point about Mormons supporting gay rights being somewhat of an oxymoron. I think you're probably right about gay Republicans supporting other Republican platforms. I was just being snarky when I said I didn't really get them.

There's room for everybody at the table. That's the great thing about living in a free country.

Have an enjoyable time at your Pride parade.

boskers said...

I was at the SLC Pride and it was my first time. I really agree with much of your points of views and also had very similar impressions with the whole thing. Good job putting into words!

Gay LDS Actor said...

Thanks, Boskers. Hope you had as good a time as I did.