Sunday, April 15, 2012

Miami Beach Gay Pride....or Gay Shame?

On this Pride Sunday I am a little bitter this year.  For the last four years I've participated in the Gay Pride Parade on Miami Beach.  I just assumed it was every gay man's fantasy to wave at crowds from an elevated moving platform.  I mean, who doesn't want to be in a parade, and better yet a parade in your honor?  So this year I was shocked and disappointed when the gay organization I am involved with showed absolutely no enthusiasm for this event.  

Granted the organization has changed a bit in the last year, the members are younger, straighter and more "corporate" than in previous years.  Several excuses ranged from "it would affect my job" to "I'm job hunting right now" to just a curious apathy about Gay Pride in general.  I remember once a story about a guy who went to Gay Pride in New York and was watching the parade from the sidewalk. He had been enjoying the parade until a news crew came up to him and asked his opinion about the event. He saw the camera and ran away...for  blocks.  Personally, I don't think that employers really scour social media to look for what people do in their private lives.  Secondly, would any gay man want to work somewhere that did? 

So I keep asking myself the question why are these guys so reticent to get up on float and show their pride. They are leaders in a gay organization. They are openly gay. Is it internalized homophobia or simply that because they've grown up in a more accepting world where gays are more integrated that they don't seem to think they need things like pride parades or organizations that fight for their civil rights. 

So why have a gay pride parade at all?  I'll tell you why. Because we were marginalized to the point of invisibility until 30 years ago. We are not allowed to marry. We are not allowed to take care of our families like heterosexual couples. We are still targeted and investigated by law enforcement in the places we gather. Our standard bearers, like Ellen DeGeneres, are attacked for simply representing a national retail chain. Because talented young men and women are afraid to represent on a float in a parade because of a perceived fear (real or not) that they wont get that next promotion, security clearance or that dream job. Because children are bullied to the point of wanting to kill themselves.

Gay Pride is a poke in the eye of all of those who hate gays. It's a protest that shows all our feathers, craziness and sexual rebellion.  That drag queens, who started that rebellion walk in the daylight and say : I am here, I am real, I am human. Pride says "you may not like me, but I will not be silenced or marginalized again."   So Happy Miami Beach Pride.  I will be marching today.