Don’t Rain On Our Parade

Pride

The Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade was held last Sunday September 17 in Dallas, Texas where people were free to express themselves and be who and what they are without fear of being persecuted.

In stark comparison, the Ugandan LGBT cancels pride events in the wake of police and government threats. The LGBT of Uganda were threatened with arrest, even violence, and the police were reportedly ready to surround the venues that had been booked. The event was meant to begin last month on the 16th but they were left with no choice but to cancel. The LGBT community in Uganda is still traumatized by the arrests and detentions that took place last year. They couldn’t risk a repeat.

What a difference years of activism and democracy makes.

The younger LGBT of this country are very fortunate in comparison to other countries and I don’t think they know it. It has been very apparent in social media comments and posts; that these millennial young, with their flippant remarks about individuality and not conforming; 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.

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I recently read a post on Facebook in which a gentleman asked,” Am I the only gay man who couldn’t careless about pride parades?” The majority of the comments he received from his question seem to echo the same sentiment.

Nope I can’t stand em lol – You are not alone my friend! – 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.

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 –

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…

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 kids bro!”

Listen to the kids bro? That’s real cute. Oh to be young and think I know it all again.

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

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

The Past was not Gay-Friendly

I was born the same year as the Stonewall Riots. For some that may not know; 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. They 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.

There was so much negativity toward the LGBT community in 1984, the year I came out, because of the AIDS epidemic and the hysteria that it was causing. Our nation 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.

We were all frightened because no one knew how it was acquired and the best lead at the time was that the disease was showing up predominantly in gay men.

Imagine going to a hospital to be treated and then denied what little help the hospitals could provide at the time because you were gay and therefore feared to carry the deadly virus. This refusal to treat patients came from not knowing the facts and was one of the factors that contributed to the stigma that was placed on the LGBT community for so many years to come.

Imagine what that was like and picture seeing your friends die.

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

Then imagine a time before that; 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 youth think our world was like in 1952? That was the year The American Psychiatric Association included homosexuality under “sociopathic personality disturbance” in its first official list of mental disorders?

Did anything change? Were we accepted? Did we feel the love when President Eisenhower issued an executive order in 1953 legalizing the firing of LGBT people. Openly LGBT couples (and people) 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.

Hold My Earrings!

We will not go back in the closet.

I suspect that some of the younger people of today may not think that coming out is brave anymore. They read about and see that people, like athletes, politicians and actors are coming out and being their authentic self almost daily and it seems commonplace to them.

Male Concentration Camp Prisoners

But 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 . Violence that was simply motivated by hateful attitudes towards our community

Thankfully, we had courageous people who came before us that made the acceptance of a once feared and misunderstood community possible.

Thankfully, we had courageous men and women that 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, who lost her son to suicide because he was not accepted by his mother.

The newbies should be filled with gratitude for the brave LGBT community of 1970’s New York that held the first Gay Pride Parade.

So the parade can and will get crowded and people may be uncomfortable in the heat. And yas, 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?

There will also be in attendance some butch queens and feminine lesbians. Some will be doctors and attorneys, some will work at McDonald’s and some fix your cars for a living. Who really cares what our occupations are? I know you are thinking, ” I don’t want people to think we are just hairdressers and make up artists.” What if we all were? Get over yourself Mary.

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 and other denominations that participate to show the world that being gay is not an evil thing 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 bravely tried to be who they are openly, 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 anti-homosexuality act in Uganda was actually referred to as the Kill The Gays Bill due to death penalty clauses proposed in the original version. 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..

 

Header Photo Credit (Tom Fox )

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