Steven (unzeugmatic) wrote,

That Pride Thing

I've been seeing a lot of anti-Pride rants on livejournals over the last couple of weeks, as I trace down various links from discussions. First off, I should say that there are many unresolvable discussion points about various components of Pride parades and festivals: What is a comfortable degree of commercialism, or politicization? What is the categorical umbrella the Parade should cover? In addition, Pride parades can be hot and crowded, and particularly in larger cities after several decades they can lose the excitement they once held for many (and from what I can see still hold for the young and newly out). Some people just don't enjoy themselves, for various reasons, although I'm convinced there are things to enjoy for pretty much anybody who wants to find them (I'm big on the idea that festivals and public gatherings are a general good). None of those discussion points are what I'm talking about.

No, what I'm talking about are all the rants that follow the same script, the script noting what a bad image "we" present at Pride, a script that was creaky and cliched when it was first followed 36 years ago. It's tempting to try to respond on a point-by-point basis, but that becomes frustrating almost immediately since what you find yourself arguing against is not anything in particular about the various things that Pride is or means or has or hasn't accomplished, but about the personal discomfort of an individual (even when the individual is deflecting that discomfort onto imagined others). This is something that can sometimes be addressed, although probably not through discussion (but rather through time and community experience).

I went and traced down some of the writings of two people who made faux-bold anti-Pride statements in journals I follow. I found statements like this:

... maybe we should keep our worst behavior tucked in the one weekend a year when EVERYONE is looking.

You couldn't find a more succinct example of people revealing their own personal ickiness factor while seemingly having convinced themselves that it's how we appear to others that's at issue (usually it takes a couple of sentences for that to become clear rather than one phrase). Discussions about who and what Pride is for or about the indirect but undeniable connections between what Pride yields on a personal level and action on a larger political level are irrelevant when the real complaint is how the festivities of Pride show us on our "worst behavior".

A clear statement of what lies behind many of these rants came up when I followed somebody to his own journal, and right there without even the padding of self-delusion was this:

But perhaps the biggest problem I have with Gay Pride events is, it is a hypocritical thing ... I've observed how gay people treat each other. It is not nice. I have never seen so much backstabbing, so much petty jealousy, the undying compulsion to seize someone else's success, the burning need to "devastate" someone who you feel has put you down in some minor way. In short, what good is our political movement if we can't be decent to one another? Why should we gather and party together on one day when the rest of the year we do hateful things to one another?

Ok, first of all there's the "lesbians don't exist" aspect of this comment, and there's the complete ignoring of any number of gay/lesbian community organizations and affiliations that exist for gay people to sing or dance or bowl or play rugby or worship, but at the core what you have here is naked prejudice (phrased in a way that if you share the prejudice you could wallow in a right-on brother mutual stroke, as many did, in the sort of mutual stroking that characterizes cultural prejudice in the first place). Gay people (do you think he means "gay men" here? I do) -- as a class, for crying out loud -- "do hateful things to one another"? Is it even necessary to point out where the problem is here? (Hint: it's not in any categorically identifiable behavior of gay men as a class.)

As tired of Pride as some people claim to be, I doubt they could be a fraction as weary as I've become over the last 30 years with this sort of nonsense.
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