Why Gay Pride Matters

In the spirit of equality, togetherness and reaching out to any first-timers in this month’s Pride celebration, I’ve carved out some time in my Pride Weekend to write a letter to an anonymous friend who is valiantly working through her coming out experience. I think that knowing me makes it a little difficult at times because I’m so very comfortable with who I am but I remember when I wasn’t… so this is dedicated to my dear friend but also to anyone who is coming out… and to all of us, gay, straight, bisexual, transgender or queer, who know what it’s like to feel small in this big, big world.


Welcome out of the closet ~

The closet was certainly a comfortable place so let’s start by acknowledging that it was somewhere known and a place where you could predict your own behavior and your interactions with others. You knew your “wardrobe” and what you enjoyed wearing in this world and while you were trapped in the semi-darkness, darkness can be soothing when light is blinding. So, an affinity for being hidden is natural…

But that isn’t your story anymore. All of these rainbow flags and colorful people can be overwhelming! I remember my first gay pride parade and how uncomfortable it was to see so many “proud” people, holding hands, kissing one another, laughing loudly, dressing wildly. I thought, “Wow! They are so pretty” but I was frightened at the same time. I felt like the whole crowd could sense that it was my first time and like a pride virgin, I was shy and reserved, confused and my stomach was in knots. So many people… celebrating what? Themselves? Their sexuality? Their friendships? Love? Their leather chaps and feather boas? What the?!

I saw more SKIN at a pride parade than I thought was legal. I thought, “Is this what Woodstock looked like?” and I wondered how on earth I would fit into this “freak” show. But that was the first year…

Over the years, I’ve learned that Gay Pride matters not because we get to wave our freak flags but because we become part of a community that sticks up for one another and agrees that only in diversity can the oneness of creation truly be manifest on earth. Does it sound hyper-spiritual? Well, I guess that’s what I call “homospiritual.” Gay Pride is this one month in the year and sometimes only a few hours when people identify with one cause: Equality. The events aren’t really about sexuality at all.

It’s about equality and how there’s room for everyone in this big, big world!

So this year, as you participate in some of the wacky events that make up the culture of gay pride, I hope that you can take a deep breath and realize that no one is asking you to become like them, full of flamboyant traits or over-the-top expressions of your sexuality. Rather, find YOURSELF in the crowd… not by literally looking around in the crowd and identifying with anyone, but realizing that in this crowd, you matter. Just as you are…

And whether you come out entirely, to your family and every friend, co-workers and acquaintance you ever meet, the point of this month and this weekend is that you fully come out to the crowd and realize your unique, intrinsic worth in a community.

And recognition of oneself, in the midst of a crowd… that’s not a gay pride matter, that’s a human matter. We have the gay pride phenomenon to thank for reminding us all that we are worthy of a celebration, because of who we are, not because of who we love or what we do.

So enjoy yourself this month and this weekend. The rainbow love and light that awaits you out of the closet is exciting but it is a hard adjustment when you’ve been told that you don’t matter and sameness has been worshipped rather than diversity. Be gentle with yourself and know that in time, you will know like I do that being a lesbian doesn’t make me special… but being myself does.

I love you.


One thought on “Why Gay Pride Matters

  1. Gail,

    I relate to what you say on a couple of levels.

    I was always the odd person out in my family of origin. I will save you from the boring details and just leave it at that.

    I never really fit in with societal norms. I will again save you from the boring details.

    But what I really want to get at is this. Just recently I made a truly wonderful discovery. Yeah, I’m a late bloomer, probably many, many people have already discovered this about Jesus, but I’m just now getting around to it.

    He tells us in the New Testament that we now only have two great commandments and those are to basically love God with all of our heart and soul and to love others as we love ourselves. That can be quite a conundrum for most people because most people don’t know how to “love themselves” properly. They either love themselves in a narcissistic way, or they don’t love themselves at all.

    But I began thinking about this deeply. Jesus is known as the greatest lover of humankind to ever exist. Is it possible then that he knew EXACTLY how to love himself perfectly? If a person can only truly love another individual perfectly if they first know how to love themselves perfectly, then Jesus is our greatest example of how to do that. Maybe we, as a society are studying everything backwards, maybe we need to study how to FIRST love and nurture our own selves BEFORE we will ever know how to truly love and nurture others. Once we know how to love and nurture our own selves THEN we will truly graduate to loving outside of ourselves. It’s all about balance.

    But isn’t that an awesome thought, Jesus loving himself so very much, and in the *proper* way, that he just oozed and exuded love to other outside of Himself? I think that’s just awesome! –And yet He didn’t value his own life so much that he wasn’t willing to loose it for the sake of ALL. Wow. What a balance He knew how to strike!

    So, yes, self-love, self-acceptance are not only good traits, they are absolutely necessary in order to fulfill the commandment of love Jesus gave us in the New Testament.


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