The Pride Paradox

The end of June and Pride are both here. It used to be just a weekend, but now Pride really gets to strut it’s stuff for a whole month. And that gives us more time to ponder what Pride is and what it means.

At its basic level, it is the opposite of shame. That’s why Pride started as a riot – it was revolt against shame that had been brewing for several years in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and finally with an explosion in New York at Stonewall. It was an expression of rage and anger about how society was shaming people for things that they should not be shamed for. Society has no business criminalizing the most important aspects of an individual’s self – how they perceive themselves, their bodies, and what they do in their sexual lives as, and with, consenting adults.  

A riot turned into Pride. Then, Pride became a demand for acceptance. It isn’t just enough to not be beaten. No one should be denied a job, or an apartment, or simple respect as a human being. 

Acceptance breeds assimilation – once you can be out as a man attracted to other men, the rainbow colored cop car will eventually show up. 2 women married and raising children become a target demographic for major advertisers, just like anyone else. Trans people who would’ve been kicked out of the army can now go fight for our “country’s interests” in far away lands. Society expects some reciprocity for its acceptance.

The corporations that turn their logos rainbow and extol how much they support you are doing that because we are on the profitable side of the ledger right now. It wasn’t always like that. The utter neutrality of money is just that – it actually doesn’t care about anything. Lots of queer activists worked for acceptance and showed that we were worthy of being treated the same. And, to these entities, our money is just as green. 

But just because Citi Bank may have a rainbow version of its logo, that doesn’t mean that the LGBTQ community is not going to be attacked anymore. We still hear horrific stories of torture and abuse. There are those politicians who deride us and religious people who preach against us. Even though we’ve come far, the struggle goes on.

In order to become an accepted part of society, you become part of that society, even while some parts of that society still won’t accept you. A sort of paradox, if you will.

Also posted on facebook.