Don’t Rain On Our Pa·rade

Happy Pride!

The annual Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade was recently held in Dallas, and even though we are in Texas, a red conservative state, we were free to express ourselves and be who and what we are with pride and without fear of being persecuted, jailed, or killed.

In stark comparison, the Ugandan LGBT were forced to cancel their Pride Celebrations due to threats of violence and deadly legal force.

Ugandan Pride events were meant to be held last August on the 16th, but the proud Ugandans were left with no choice but to call off all parades and unifying celebrations.

The LGBT community in Uganda is still traumatized by the arrests and detentions that took place the previous year and they did not want to risk it happening again .

What do you think the people in Uganda would give to be free to express themselves, openly and honestly as the men and women in this country ?

I fear that, here in the United States, our younger LGBT may not realize that although we have come a long way in gaining rights that many people had spent decades fighting for, we are not fully fulfilled and accepted as they probably think we are.

Do they appreciate how very fortunate they are in comparison to LGBT in some other countries? I don’t think they do.

It has been very apparent in social media comments and posts; that these millennial young, with their flippant remarks about individuality and not conforming to pattern; add to that the number of gay Republicans ( because they don’t “vote from the bedroom“) are definitely taking the freedoms they enjoy for granted.

I recently read a post on Facebook in which a gentleman asked,” Am I the only gay man who couldn’t care less about pride parades?”

The majority of the comments he received from his question seem to agree that the parade was passe. 

“Nope, I can’t stand em lol – You are not alone my friend! “-21752316_10214252263879843_7626080740841447842_n
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“I’ve never been to one and I don’t really care to go to one  ” –   

“Nope, I don’t care for them either “-   

“Yeah, it expresses the worst sides of us and makes us look like a bunch of perverts, whores, freaks, and alcoholics, sadly. And what’s worse is that’s all people see. They don’t get to see how so many of us aren’t like that.”34

“The pride parade has become less about pride and more about exposing a small minority” –       

 “Haven’t been to one…”

“I don’t care about them either, they seem boring and a waste of time.”

“Skipping it… Has become a routine “-

1“No.  Been there, done that.” –

“Nope…I DON’T CARE AT ALL…NEVER HAVE! IT’S ABSOLUTELY RIDICULOUS!” – “It’s a reason for straights to come out and make fun of gay people and further discriminate against us…”23

“Jesus no! Never got into all that hoopla stuff. I’m proud like I am. I’m good lol.”

And then there was this reply:

“You’re not alone. We will redefine ourselves shortly friend. Self-respect for our bodies and mind. Self-worth will be net worth. We are all people’s of many colors, LGBT does not define me, I define my own identity. Listen to the kid’s bro!”555

Listen to the kid’s bro? Listen to the kid’s bro?

That’s cute.

Oh, to be young again and think I know it all.

LGBT does define you, Bro.

It defines you the way that being Hispanic defines me. It defines you the same way your political party affiliation defines you.

It defines you, Bruh, the same way that your occupation defines you. It defines you and me the same way as being a son, brother, friend, uncle or a boyfriend define us.

LGBT is one of many characteristics and traits that combine to make us a whole person.

Be proud to identify as such.

The Past was not Gay-Friendly

I was born the year of the Stonewall Riots. The Stonewall Riots were a series of spontaneous, violent demonstrations by members of the gay community against a police raid that took place in the early morning hours of June 28, 1969, at the Stonewall Inn, located in Greenwich Village.

The riots are widely considered to constitute the single most important event leading to the gay liberation movement and the modern fight for LGBT rights in the United States.

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I learned about the riots in my teen years during the 1980’s after I accepted and celebrated the reality that I was gay. 

The reality that the people of the LGBT community were not considered first-class citizens became very clear to me .

There was also much negativity and disdain directed toward the gay community in 1984, the year I came out, because of the AIDS epidemic and the hysteria that it was causing. The entire world didn’t know how to deal with the sudden and painful deaths of men and women that had been otherwise strong, active and healthy in recent weeks.

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We were all frightened because no one knew how it was acquired.

At that time, the best lead the world had was that the disease was showing up predominantly in gay men.

Imagine contracting this virus and being so afraid that a painful death was your destiny and going to a hospital to be treated and then being denied any assistance because healthcare professionals did not know what they were dealing with and were afraid of coming in contact with people afflicted with this new unknown killer.

Fear was the driving factor that contributed to the stigma that was placed on the LGBT community for so many years to come.

Imagine what it was like and picture yourself seeing your friends die. Imagine, if you can, feeling so utterly helpless and hopeless.

Now, let’s pretend that it’s 1935 and you are trying not to be outed as LGBT because the American Psychological Association had just reported their first “successful” electric shock therapy treatment of a homosexual.

Let us now pretend that a few years have passed and now imagine how the LGBT people were treated during the Holocaust.

Gay men in concentration camps were identified by a pink triangle sewn on their clothing, the same way the Star of David adorned the clothing of the Jewish people. Men with pink triangles were singled out for particular abuse; they were mechanically raped, castrated, favored for medical experiments and murdered for guards’ sadistic pleasure even when they were not sentenced for “liquidation.”

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What do you think our world was like in 1952? That was the year The American Psychiatric Association included homosexuality as a “sociopathic personality disturbance” in its first official list of mental disorders.

Did we feel the love when President Eisenhower issued an executive order in 1953 legalizing the firing of LGBT people? Openly gay and lesbian couples were not even allowed to publicly gather; those who did were both harassed by civilians and criminalized by police

These are only a sampling of what being gay through history has been like for many Gays and Lesbians that wanted to be accepted for who and what they were.

Our Pride Parade is a liberation from that. It’s a brave statement of resistance. We are telling the world that we are not to be ignored and we will not be invisible so that others may be more comfortable.

We will not go back in the closet.

I suspect that some younger people today may not recognize coming out as a brave expression anymore. It may seem mundane to them now because we witness celebrities and athletes displaying their authentic self to the world more than we did in years past.

Male Concentration Camp Prisoners

It wasn’t always that way.

People lived in fear of being outed. If a person was exposed as a homosexual they would be at risk of losing their jobs while others lived in fear of being alienated by their families. We were left open and unprotected from ridicule, discrimination, and bullying. At that time there weren’t any laws to protect us. We were susceptible to becoming targets of violence because of our perceived sexuality. A violence that was simply motivated by hateful attitudes towards our community.

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Thankfully, we had courageous people who came before us that made the acceptance of a once feared and misunderstood community possible as they brought attention to the hate crimes and the need to identify the crimes as such.

Coming out is easier for some today because of men and women who came before us and fought back, fought for our rights, and said “We’re here, We’re Queer…Get used to it!”

Today’s youth and complacent LGBT can thank the Stonewall rioters and the gays that were made to suffer and the ones that were murdered by the Third Reich. They can be grateful to the gays and lesbians that were put through electric shock therapy and those that we did not hear from ever again because of the violence that was rampant and once tolerated towards us.

They can thank Harvey Milk, Bayard Rustin, Matthew Shepard and allies such as Mary Griffith.

matthew-shepard

The newly out should be filled with gratitude for the brave LGBT community of 1970’s New York that held the first Gay Pride Parade. Consider the obstacles and ridicule these people had to deal with so that future generations would likely struggle less with opposition .

So the parade can and will get crowded and people may be uncomfortable in the heat. And yes, Ms. Thang will don her butt-less chaps again and maybe there will be one too many drag queens pulling focus and of course, some skinny twink will forget to get dressed before leaving the house. That will happen. What’s really wrong with that?

 In attendance, we will see some butch queens and feminine lesbians. Some make a living as doctors and attorneys, some will work at McDonald’s and some fix your cars.

To the gent that stated that the Pride Parade was so routine in the Facebook post I mentioned earlier, please reconsider .

At least we are able to have a parade.

To the Facebook user that wrote that the public will perceive us as freaks, whores, perverts, and alcoholics – get over yourself, Mary.

Do you see a bitchy hetero and think all heterosexuals are bitches?

Who really cares what our occupations are?

“I don’t want people to think we are just hairdressers and makeup artists.”

Really Louella? What if we all were? Who really cares?

Let’s come out and thank the companies that stand with us such as Whole Foods, Starbucks, PepsiCo, Capital One and American Airlines to name a very few.

Don’t forget that several congregations like the United Church of Christ, the Methodist Church and other denominations participate to show the world that being gay is not evil and that the “Christians” that preach hate are wrong.

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Finally. let’s not forget that the proud LGBT of Uganda, apart from not being able to hold a parade or have any Pride celebrations after they openly and bravely tried to be who they are, live in a land where The Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Act, (previously called the “Kill the Gays bill”) is a real thing.

Imagine your government drafting a law that called for your death just because you are gay. The Parliament of Uganda passed the bill on December 20, 2013, but with life in prison substituted for the death penalty.

Let’s participate to celebrate the LGBT that came before us that paved the way for the liberties you enjoy today and let’s be a voice for the ones that can’t be out for fear of death.

Let’s be visible and proud. Let’s be who we are. Join in the celebrations

Don’t let the parade pass you by…

 

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Header Photo Credit (Tom Fox )

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