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June 22, 2004

Joe's Thoughts:
Meaning of Pride

BY
JOE

Nothing like some wieners sizzling on the barbeque to make you feel like summer is here! Well, wieners and hearing the buzz about Boystown, which means only one thing - the queer community is busy preparing for another month o’ pride.

For a long time Pride was an interesting experience for me. I never quite knew how to balance the positive feelings I had about being a fag with the icky feelings I had seeing my community half-clothed and drunk. I even found myself thinking that a parade wasn’t necessary. Having a bunch of queers marching down Halsted only portrays this image to the straight world that LGBT folk were a bunch of freaks, right? But that summer, after going to my first Pride Parade, I finally understood, both personally and politically, why the parade was such an important event.

This understanding came right around the moment I saw a gaggle of anti-gay protesters marching down the street, ranting that I was destined to burn in hell because I like (sometimes even love) boys. I was outraged! My stomach ached, with that same queasy feeling I felt in gym class when the jocks would talk about fags. As these people marched down Broadway, I feared their verbal hatred would become physical violence, and that it might turn towards me.

But almost as quickly as that yucky feeling filled my stomach, it disappeared. As hundreds of people watched these hateful people march and shout horrible things about me and my friends, I was distracted by the sudden applause of the crowd gathered to watch the Parade. What? We’re applauding the gay bashers?

Ahhh, but then I saw them. Decked out in full dress. Make-up painfully perfect. Heels eight inches from the ground. Lipstick as hot as the sun. Eight fabulous drag queens sashayed right passed the hate group with their big hair held high. It was at that exact moment that all my negative feelings about joining the Pride Parade – about even being gay – completely disappeared. For the first time in my life, I felt like I was part of something bigger than me. I was part of a community.

You see, that very brief moment in my life taught me that I should never judge in same manner that the hate group judged me because I was gay. Rather, I should be celebrating each of the unique people surrounding me that day, like we all celebrated the glory of those high-heeled queens strutting down the street.

So, I guess what I’m trying to say is that if you’re thinking about going to Pride this year, but are afraid that you’ll just be surrounded by a bunch of sexually charged drunkards, don’t allow yourself to give power to that perception. Sure, those people will be there, but so will the PFLAG parents, the adult mentors, and all the other glamorous people your age – unique and fabulous all in their own special ways.

Allow yourself to experience the whole queer community, not just the one you believe is out there.

 
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