The event of the year that stands out on most gay guys' social calendar is finally upon us, and the excitement and buzz about the event is everywhere to be seen. After-party invitations, float tickets, performing artists, and expensive, flamboyant outfits, are on everybody's agendas. Feathered scarves, miniskirts, fishnet-stockings, glitter, bling and wigs, to name a few, are highly on demand in stores across the province. Yes, I'm referring to the infamous Jo'burg Gay Pride - or so they say...
I would like to be so bold as to ask: can we sit back for a second and just consider what the intention of gay pride was in the beginning? As you can surely imagine, the event is more than just pink boots and gaudy outfits. The movement has three main objectives: that people should be proud of their sexual orientation and gender identity, that diversity is a gift, and that sexual orientation and gender identity are inherent and cannot be intentionally altered. (www.bates.ctc.edu)
In 1969, this movement was established to fight back against the oppressive forces of the US police department. And in more recent years, the march was held in remembrance of the suffering and hardship of our gay predecessors. To this day we should walk the march with pride and dignity, to show our very conservative fellow countrymen, that we do exist, that we are human, and that we want to be treated as equals in all walks of life. We have a responsibility to take to the streets and show-off our compassion and humanity, our PRIDE.
May I ask you, however, as one gay guy to another, are you really proud to be gay? Can you honestly keep a straight face and tell me that you're proud to be associated with other gay guys? Before you answer, let me be the first to say, I'm not proud. I'm ashamed. Look at what's around you, promiscuity, lies, deception, hurt, loneliness, suicide, drugs and sex. As far as I am concerned, it’s not a demonstration of positive pride, it's simply a crying shame.
Now that we've got that cleared up and out of the way, let's consider what "Gay Pride" has become...
Imagine yourself being a straight bystander looking at the embarrassing spectacle we call Gay Pride. Do you, for one second, think that someone who's opposed to homosexuality, would consider this behaviour as normal, acceptable human conduct? Do you think a young boy or girl, having doubts and fears about their sexuality, is going to look at the masses and relate? Isn't the fact that we're normal and just like them, what we're trying to tell the world? I'll tell you this much, I find it impossible to believe that a young boy that feels "different", will look upon the guys in the march and think to himself, "That's me!" I guess what I'm trying to say, guys, is that we're missing the point. We're not living up to the ideals of what our predecessors fought for. I believe that we're making a mockery of what they gave their lives to achieve.
It's exactly that at which we're failing fatally. Instead of feeling proud to tell people in my life that I took a stance against LGBT discrimination, against an ever growing number of suicides among gay teens, by taking part in an annual event that's held worldwide, I feel ashamed to have anybody see the pictures of this "celebrated" day. I would die, if someone were to see me at Gay Pride. Is this normal? Am I the only one that would love to take part (and usually does) in this parade, but wouldn't want to be spotted by anyone I know? Is this feeling I have inside what Gay Pride is all about? No it's not. In fact it's the exact opposite, it's Gay Shame. People go to this march to get drunk, get laid, and get to show off their ridiculous and daring outfits. Are the guys on the fire truck hot? Yes they are without a doubt. But do they for one second consider what image they are portraying to the straight world? No, without a doubt they are not. As beautiful as your behinds are, showing them off to the straight bystanders is blatantly shoving sex in their faces, and in turn, damaging our community's feeble reputation fatally.
Without even being in South Africa as I write this piece, I can clearly hear the resounding roar of readers in disbelief at my arrogance and egotism. But what I need you to understand, is that I'm not trying to piss you off. What I want more than anything else, is to improve the image we as gay people portray to the outside world, to help them gain understanding and approval for us as a part of their society. Even more important than this, I want to show young people with thoughts of suicide due to their feelings of peculiarity, that there's a community out there to whom they can relate, a community where they will feel at home and safe, somewhere they belong, amidst a sea of predators just waiting to tear them to shreds. The incredibly sad thing about this is that, after almost three years of being gay, I for one, do not relate to this community. I believe in old-fashioned love and friendship, in caring for people around me, and doing everything in my power not to hurt other people. I found that earlier in most of the straight friends and partners that I had. But ever since coming out, I've encountered more pain and betrayal than I could ever in my wildest dreams have imagined.
Would I do it all over again? I am strongly beginning to doubt that. I found more love and companionship in my ex wife, than I have ever seen with men. I'm beginning to think that all men say they believe in love and that they want to be in committed relationships. But the second a new 21 year old piece of "love" crosses their path, they magically fall out of love with you. I would even be as brave as to say I know of very few gay men who even know what real love is.
So in conclusion, when you open your cupboard doors on the morning of the 1st October 2011, consider this article. Consider the message you're trying to send into the world. Consider the young boy or girl that will be standing next to the road looking at you. Consider the thousand of pictures that will be taken on the day and published for all homophobic people to see. Consider the principles of our predecessors, and what they tried to achieve with the march.
Get out of your pants, start thinking outside the gutter and be yourself, not what you want the world to think you are.
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