|||| Patience Newbury
[Background note: I wrote this piece back on 30 June 2002, during the first year I stopped attending Pride. Even with ten years in between, some of the content still feels as relevant in 2012. I'm not sure I feel about pride now the same way I did then, since I tend to downplay the word "pride" in pretty much every context of the word (too much internal association between "pride" and the word "hubris"). I'm not as pessimistic in 2012. I am a lot more pragmatic in 2012. But whatever. Onward to the younger-me retro-piece from 2002.]
I’ve never experienced a Pride like this before, like my friend did today:
This year has been the first year I felt like Pride is for me. Everyone in my circle wishes everyone else a “Happy Pride.” Like it’s New Year’s or something. It’s charming.
The process of coming out has been circuitous for me. I’ve joked about my attraction to women since high school. In college, I said “I’ll never find another man that good, I’ll just have to switch to women.”
And I started noticing the women I was attracted to. But they were straight. Or at least I thought so.
I didn’t really put my life in that framework. I was busy having relationships so I could avoid my pain and growth.
Then I moved here. And got single. And met Patience. And learned a whole mess of things about life.
I looked back at my teen years and college and could see every single person I had ever been attracted to. I could tell that what I had felt for Jane in High School was NOT just a deep desire to be her friend.
I was scared that the queer community wouldn’t accept me. Because I identify as bi. Because I hadn’t had sexual relationships with women. Because I wanted to be part of the community so badly and, in my life till now, that has almost always meant I would be excluded.
This weekend I went to Pride. And found more of my community. And took ownership for building the kind of community I want.
At Pride, it’s never about the people whom I choose to be attracted. It’s always about what I look like or represent to the other pride attendees, since I’m really just some kind of errant asexual being, of course.
At Pride, I am never an object of affection. Except for chasers. And chasers aren’t people. They are predators.
At Pride, it’s always about resting upon the laurels of the few and privileged and never about realising just how little has been accomplished in the big scheme of community harmony or civil and criminal justice since a big riot went down on Christopher Street.
At Pride, I am an oddity, an oddity to every G-person, every L-person, every B-person and every T-person. It’s because I’m far more complex than a mere container will allow.
At Pride, it’s always about typecasting and political correctness. It’s never about plurality.
At Pride, I feel like i have to prove to boundless sceptics that I’m even a human being.
At Pride, it’s no longer a march by the whole community, which, of course, might come across as too powerful and symbolically unified (which might even teach the community itself a thing or two) by those whom freak out at the thought of a “Queer Agenda”. The riot police would ensue for sure.
At Pride, I am not a part of “The Movement”. I never have been. Unless I play by the master’s rules, I am not welcome to “The Movement”.
At Pride, it’s all about exclusion, bread crumbs, hierarchy, judgmentality and who has the money, the Lexus and the Subaru.
At Pride, I am an alien. an illegal alien.
At Pride, it’s all about the cliquishness of the high skool lunch table brought into the macrocosm of the “real world”. People know when they’re “in”, and people know when they’re “out”.
At Pride, I get to sit at the misfits and troublemakers lunch table, next to the artists, the musicians and the future anarchists, if I’m even that lucky.
At Pride, it’s always about head count. Never about strength in numbers.
At Pride, I must pretend to be something i’m not — just to be tolerated.
At Pride, it’s all about the price of access. Who has it. And who doesn’t.
At Pride, there is never a central voice for the poor, the non-white or the non-privileged, and anyone making a complaint as such is no better than a cranky whiner. Or a pinko-commie.
And at Pride, I no longer need a complacent, feel-good, upstanding-homo-only-if-you-have-the-right-inherited-tools-and-play-by-our-rules meat market fest sponsored by Bud Light, I.D. lube, and the HRC to know who I am and why I’m proud to call myself a survivor of both the real world and of the community.
I’m proud every day. Not just Pride weekend.
Mood: very hurt
Music: kissing the pink — certain things are likely