Gay Pride

Pride Parade

What is Gay Pride?

Most major cities worldwide sponsor a parade, a street fair, or festival, etc. during June to celebrate Gay Pride. These events attract not only LGBT people and their allies but also even the curious who may be intrigued to see the show. Scantily clad folks and female impersonators have been standard barers (pardon the pun) for many years. But the events are more than just an excuse to party. The dates vary, depending upon the city, but the purpose is the same: to celebrate and demonstrate LGBT visibility to the community. We were invisible for so long, and that only resulted in more persecution.

Although the U.S. Supreme Court approved same-sex marriage two years ago (and most European nations even earlier,) LGBT people still face discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations in many states. The Obama Administration also promoted LGBT human rights with federal agencies and contractors, but the current administration and Congress are unlikely to even consider any legislation providing federal anti-discrimination protections.

Perhaps we became complacent because of advances we've made in recent decades after centuries of hatred and oppression, particularly by the church. We've gotten a wake-up call from Donald Trump that assault on LGBT people is OK and that states may opt-out of court orders by claiming religious freedom, i.e. freedom to discriminate based solely upon one's sexual orientation or gender identity. Transgender and people of color seem to be particularly vulnerable to outright hatred and bigotry.

Some heterosexual people ask why we have to "flaunt" our sexuality. But they do it every day by holding hands in public, putting photos of their spouses on their desks at work, and assuming that everyone is just like them. Although we may be a minority of the population, we are not unique in history and have been around for a long time and in all cultures and societies. Some were more repressive, and others were more tolerant.

The common thread has been the long-term condemnation by organized religions, not just Christianity. We were considered a threat to the established order, particularly among patriarchial societies. Expression of human sexuality for anything other than procreation was discouraged and considered unclean. It wasn't part of the natural order of things and certainly not an aspect of life to be enjoyed as a mutual expression of love. It was limited to a duty to preserve the human race, and that was it. The absolute rule of the majority prevailed, and any variation was condemned. Some Protestant denominations have softened their stance, but most are still fighting the so-called culture wars.

Self-acceptance and understanding are perhaps the foremost steps in achieving maturity and mental health. Because we were repressed and/or murdered for so long, we were accused of being mentally unstable. When anyone is treated as we were, it creates a deep anxiety and frustration. We have fought a long battle to become proud and accepting of who we are, regardless of the consequences.

We have the right to be proud.

Photos of Pride parades around the world