Monday, June 26, 2017

When Pride Intersects with Fear.

So let's say hypothetically I have a good friend in the security business.  He is privy to lots of information, let's say he calls me and says "hey, I've heard some chatter and that giant gay mega-Pride you're going to in Madrid is a target, be careful".  What are you going to do? Cancel your European vacation?, Stay away from the event? Or go anyway and take your chances? 

So as gay men and women what do we do?  I mean I'm still a part of a generation that remembers police raids on gay bars and massive arrests for no reason other than hanging out with our friends.  I can remember an underground world of parties that were spread by word of mouth in secret locations for fear the authorities would descend and ruin lives for simply wanting to be with your own kind. I remember being threatened by a police officer to "pay the fine, or we'll put your name in the newspaper."(I didn't.) 

I am still part of a generation where government inaction and homophobic prejudice led to the death of 500,000 gay men from a pretty horrible disease. A generation of people who had to hide their relationships from the world for fear of eviction, shunning or public shame. 

I also come from a community that overcame each and every one of those battles so I could marry the man I love, live a life of prosperity and face my community with dignity.  I fully hope the "chatter" is not true, that all the gay pride events continue to be safe, fun and meaningful.  I believe in the western ideals of democracy, of equality for all individuals and freedom of expression.  I believe in this because I have fought for it in court, at the ballot box, in the streets, in the dying rooms of hospitals.  I will not let events like what happened at Pulse nightclub last year stop me from celebrating my hard won freedoms.

So I'm going to celebrate my victories at International Gay Pride in Madrid.  I can only hope the security services are there to protect my right to assemble, to speak out, to be a citizen of a great western democracy and understand we cannot be afraid of "chatter".  We can not bow down to fear. Why? because I come from a generation of gay men where fear was worn like a very comfortable coat that hung in a very dark closet.