This weekend is Los Angeles Gay Pride (or officially just LA Pride). Given how crazy busy I have been these past weeks, I had intended to spend a quiet day at home, reading and taking it easy, but having been invited to several parties (especially given the hostess of the earlier one), I decided I’ll step out tomorrow and join in the festivities.
Three years ago when I had also resolved to spend a quiet day at home instead of partaking in those festivities, I wondered if Pride were “passÃ©:”
the purpose of Pride has changed since the first parades of the 1970s. Back then it was a chance for gay people to be more visible. They called it â€œPrideâ€ to counter the sense that, having not been open about our difference, we were ashamed of our sexuality. Today, as gay people becoming increasingly visible, it’s beginning to seem that â€œPrideâ€ is passÃ©. Pride now seems to be merely the name of the gay & lesbian street festival where people gather to have a good time one spring weekend.
Today at a brunch for my synagogue, I talked with a gay man nearly a generation older than me and shared my ambivalence about “Pride.” He sort of shared my attitude, but offered an understanding observation, “That’s because you’re younger” and pointed out how much more the visibility, the public declaration of pride, mattered when he was coming of age as a gay man in the 1970s.
Pride was once a sometimes transformational event, allowing gay individuals to find validation and recognition in the public square. Now, it’s just become primarily a community celebration similar to those of other groups organize at various times during the year. Pride just happens to be the name we assign it, the word today having more historical than social or political significance as it once did.
As I wrote three years ago, I’m neither proud nor ashamed to be gay. “I just am gay.” That word has neither positive nor negative connotations. It is merely descriptive. But, we’ve come a long way to make it so. Perhaps the whole notion of pride was necessary to help erase its negative connotations.