Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Just Not that into It

For many years now, June has been known as Gay Pride Month.  For the last forty years or so, LGBT individuals and supporters have hosted gay pride parades in cities all across the country.

I am not opposed to these parades in principle, but I have to admit that I’m just not that into them.  I do think it is important for LGBT individuals to stand up for themselves, but I am not so sure that the parades, as they are, have been the best way of doing this.

Shock value certainly does have a means of opening up people’s eyes and making them more familiar and accepting to things.  I suppose this, in part, is why in any footage of gay pride parades I’ve ever seen, there have been a whole lot of glittered, costumed, and/or near naked men dancing about showing off their stuff.  The more people see things like that, in theory, the more accepting they are of it and the things less explicit than that.

Now, I like seeing a naked man just as much as the next gay guy, but something about what I see in the parades usually just completely turns me off.  Ten very well built, tanned, almost naked, twenty something year olds dancing about on a float?  Yeah, in theory, I would think that would be a turn on.  But I never feel that way when I see these parades.  I feel shock (perhaps also mixed with a little bit of disappointment).  When I feel that way, being gay, I certainly understand why so many straight people are turned off as well.  Sexuality, whether in regards to homosexual or heterosexual relations, is something that I think the majority of people still traditionally feel should be kept in the bedroom, and not on the streets.  I feel that way.  If a straight parade were held in town, with floats carrying a bunch of near naked men and women grinding up on each other holding up signs with babies on them, I’d feel just as uncomfortable with that, and so would most straight people.

I understand why pride parades are held.  Believe me, I do.  And I think they should continue.  But I wish some of the more sexually explicit content of the parades would be left out.  I honestly think acceptance would be offered much more readily if instead of heterosexuals seeing a bunch of homosexuals carrying on explicitly in the street, they could see homosexuals acting a bit more… well, for the lack of a better word, normal.

As a gay man, I don’t think I look any different than most straight men.  Most LGBT people I’ve known don’t look any different than straight men or women, and a lot of us don’t act that much different either.  But the parades give off an impression that we do.  I’m not saying there aren’t differences between heterosexuals and homosexuals, but just that they aren’t as obvious most of the time as what is presented in the parades.  And so, when I see the parades, I see something that doesn’t come across entirely as truth.  I see an exaggeration to prove a point.  And whereas I’m sure that point has been proven to some large degree, the exaggeration does just go to reinforce so many people’s ideas that we are different; more than we (at least the overwhelming majority) actually are.

I’d like to see a parade with no bare skin.  Let gay couples walk hand in hand.  Let their families walk with them.  Let there be a showing of support, pride, acceptance, and love from groups and organizations and the like, but do it without presenting an image that just goes to reinforce those negative stereotypes that keep us in the LGBT community from truly achieving the lasting sort of acceptance and tolerance we seek.

The best argument LGBT individuals have been able to make in their fight for acceptance has been to prove that we are not that different.  So, why would we make such a grandiose statement suggesting otherwise?

Maybe I just don’t get it.  There again, maybe it does just all come back to the shock value.  After all, if people are used to seeing the sort of “shocking” things that go on in the parades, the less shocked they might become to seeing things like two men holding hands, or two women giving each other a kiss.  I suppose if the parades (as they have been) can achieve this, then there is some good in them being that way.

Maybe I just wish there was another way.


Esteban said...

I have never been to a pride parade before, and sometimes I feel like I want to go. But then I remember two things. First, that at those parades they are promoting the expression of gay sexuality. Also, I know that there is no reason to be proud of being gay. I didn't accomplish anything by being gay. No, I'm not ashamed of it, but I'm not proud either. Part of me thinks it would be fun to dance around in revealing clothing in front of people, but deep down I know I shouldn't.

naturgesetz said...

I think the pride parades, as they have been done, give an incomplete view of gay people. They present what is more a caricature than a true picture of what it means to be gay. And I don't think the things you mention (and I have seen pictures from gay pride parades some year ago in which people were not just nearly naked, but actually fully naked) lead people to accept gay people.

Brandon said...


I think you're right. I was trying to give them some benefit of the doubt though, but, yeah, I honestly just don't get the appeal. I think in a lot of cases they really do more harm than good. And I really don't doubt that full blown nudity has happened before. As I mentioned though, I think the shock value of them is designed to maybe desensitize our society to gay culture. I don't doubt that on some level it has (at least for some).

Esteban, keep your clothes on, buddy! :)

Anonymous said...

Beyond all the stuff people can see i think it's about remembering the fight and the victories for equal rights and how far the GLBT community has come but also how much still NEEDS TO BE DONE, and of course at any event that celebrates something you will have people showing skin. Why do you really think it bothers you though? Theirs something to explore there definitely.

Brandon said...

Kevin, I think it's just because it gives sort of a false impression. I'm gay, but I'm not like what I see in the parades. Society at large, however, looking at these parades, seems to want to think of all gay people as being like that. And yet the truth is that the overwhelming majority of gay people probably aren't. The parades just give off an impression that I really don't think is true, and which actually may cause more harm than good in any fight for equality.