Of all the things to be proud of, being gay seems like a strange
one. Not that I think we should be ashamed, but in much the same
way that I'm not proud of having brown eyes or fingernails, I'm not
'proud' of liking girls. My conscious participation in the
evolution of my gayness was decidedly anti-proud, constrained as it
was to mendacious ideas about phases and hormones. Queerness in my
life has prevailed in spite of me, not thanks to me.
Whereas most of the things that I'm proud of seem to have
something to do with accomplishment and a sense of due-credit, the
only thing potentially praiseworthy about my homosexuality is how
effortlessly I accomplished it. Considering that as a community we
spend an awful lot of time asserting that sexuality is Not A
Choice, it's remarkable that we're not slightly more modest about
the whole thing - a self-effacing 'thank you, it was nothing'
instead of 'LOOK WORLD, I GREW MYSELF GAY!'
Of course, I'm being semantically pedantic. Gay Pride isn't
about pride in being gay as such; it's a celebration of diversity.
Whilst it may be misguided to be proud of being gay, it's certainly
not misguided to be proud of coming out as such. Gay Pride is the
ultimate reminder that we are as Good As You, not to mention as
happy and well-adjusted. We're here: we're queer.
Except it feels a lot more like 'we're pissed: we're sunburnt'.
If Pride is going to make us feel proud then it has to represent
us, and whilst there may be peripheral things going on that
adequately do so, I can't be bothered to step over the guy who
drank his own body-weight in over-priced, super-strength cider to
get to it.
And sometimes, on Pride day I feel disillusioned because not
only do I not feel empathetic with a lot of the revellers I feel
actually disdainful towards much of the proceedings. To take this
year's London Pride line-up: Stavros Flatley and Bucks Fizz
(irrespective of whether it's the 'original line up') make me want
Most queer people I know agree what they see at Pride doesn't
say anything about their own lives. The gayscene is diverse and
encompassing, whereas Pride events often mask our internal
diversity by accentuating certain party-hard stereotypes that are
only relevant to some of the gay community.
This isn't a problem for most of us who can see the bigger
picture, but what about the teenagers who have just come out, or
those who came out later in life? Given its significance it's
likely that people who have long dreamed of joining the gay
community will see Pride Day as the time to discover their
spiritual home, only to find a bunch of tomato-faced drunks
watching Cheryl Baker having her skirt whipped off. Disappointment
won't even begin to cover it.
So Pride doesn't make me proud. As a community, I think we have
a lot more to celebrate than our ability to drape ourselves in
rainbow flags and drink for 15 hours to a disco beat.