[Editor's Note: Hey Readers! Welcome to the eighth installation of "Throwback Thursdays." Every first Thursday of the month we'll feature a post from the BDU Blog, Version 1.0. I certainly hope everyone (that lives in the US) had a nice July 4th. I at least hope you got to relax a bit, wherever you are and whatever you may be doing. This Throwback Thursday brings one person's answer to the some of the most common question that members in our community get asked by straight people. I hope you enjoy it, and if you feel there are nuances missed by these definitions, please feel free to comment.]
December 3, 2008
I have been asked more than once about why gay people have things like pride parades and why they feel the need to flaunt their sexuality or educate others on how to interact with the LGBT population. These are questions not easily asked nor easily answered, but I want to try my best to say what I think about them. The length of these answers is what it is, but I encourage you to read them and think.
1. When it comes to events like Pride (which may be defined as the state or feeling of being proud, which is defined as having or showing self-respect or self-esteem), the goal is not to display superiority, but to assert our right to have the same “self-respect” everyone else is allowed to possess. As an individual in a group that is consistently marginalized and belittled by members of my community and the government that runs my city, state, and country, my Pride stems from my assertion that I have a right to “self-respect and self-esteem.” I will continue (and we will continue) to demonstrate Pride until our country gives us the same rights that others take for granted. It can be compared to the various other civil rights issues that the United States has overcome in the last hundred or so years. Women marched and displayed their Pride to gain the right to vote and the right to equal pay and the African American population protested, marched, and spoke out to display their pride to gain equality as citizens. I admit, that we still have to work on those issues, but we have come a long way and the legal inequities no longer exist. When those legal inequities disappeared, so did the protests and the marches. Pride did not need to be displayed because the government had given these marginalized groups “self-respect” under the law. In the same way, Gay Pride must exist if we are ever to demonstrate that we are not happy with are marginalized positions in society and wish to be treated equally under the law.
2. I sometimes hear people comment on “why gays feel the need to flaunt their sexuality all the time?” That comment often leaves me speechless, as I wonder what they are talking about. Is it flaunting my sexuality to hold my boyfriend’s hand while we walk? I see how many straight couples doing that on a daily basis? Is it flaunting sexuality when gay characters kiss on television? I see straight couples kissing numerous times on television shows and in my daily life. People comment when a gay man wears “effeminate” clothing, but is it not also “flaunting” your sexuality when anyone wears clothes that reveal their body to the world or when someone wears clothes that somehow assert their heterosexuality? The point is, I see straight people “flaunting” their sexuality every day. The problem that people have with seeing a gay or lesbian person express themselves similarly is that for some reason their thoughts go straight to what that person does is the bedroom. I don’t see a straight couple and immediately picture them having sex, they may do it, but why is that my business and why would I think about it? Why does your mind go straight to sex when it should just move on and realize that these two people share the same love that you and your partner(s) share? I keep my mind out of the gutter, and you should too.
3. Finally, I have heard remarks from people asking why we need to learn about LGBT people and be sensitized to their lives. My answer to this stems from my first two answers. Every day is Straight Pride day in my book. Every day I see straight couple holding hands. Every day I see straight people kiss. Every day a professor or classmate makes assumption in his or her speech that implies that everyone is heterosexual. Every day I am confronted with and forced to understand and live in a heterosexual world that not only won’t accommodate me, but also often times prohibits me from finding my way in a straight world. So, when those “gays” announce their sexuality “from the housetops” it is not really what they are doing, it is just us standing out because we are not conforming to this heterocentric culture that we live in. Straight people declare their heterosexuality continuously, while I have to constantly consider my surroundings and make sure it is safe for my boyfriend and I to hold hands. The trainings and things that are offered to everyone exist to make it so this is not the case, so that being gay is not sensationalized, and we can hold hands in public without fear of harassment and assault or being called out for “flaunting our sexuality.”
Thank you for your time and I hope that you were able to take something away from it. Feel free to comment, but please remain civil.