In Defense of Gay Pride
“Our invisibility is the essence of our oppression. And until we eliminate that invisibility, people are going to be able to perpetuate the lies and myths about gay people.”
Some might find it strange that I should begin a gay pride polemic with a quote pertaining to invisibility, yet as one and all will soon see, I could only begin with invisibility due to the inalienable fact that the root cause of queer invisibility is the lack of gay pride; in otherwords, the embrace of silence and the rejection of activism. For thousands of years’ gay men and lesbian women have been oppressed, sometimes by each other due to chauvinism, but mostly by the heterosexual and the bigot (nearly one in the same in many nations particularly in Africa). This oppression is manifested twofold: overtly by domineering homophobic institutions and covertly by gays themselves. This covert self-hate is overt in the form of rejection: rejections of gay pride. Many gay defeatists, who actually believe themselves ‘warriors,’ defame and ridicule the notion of gay pride on the grounds that such pride is “pointless, disrespectful, supremacist, attention grabbing, labeling, or obsolete;” such logical fallacies is not only destructive to the liberation movement but also destructive to the self.
Self- mutilation takes many forms and rest assured political is among the list. Political self- mutilation is evident in gay defeatists due to their rejection of gay pride. Under the rationale that pride has become pointless and irrelevant they spew the ideology of the enemy. The truth is that pride is far from pointless; in fact, it is the single most relevant occurrence any oppressed community has. Without gay pride the gay community would still be locked in the binding chains of the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s where gay bars where illegal, police officers could openly bash queers, and where the medical community still saw homosexuality as a disease.
Gay pride was the panacea to all these societal ills because it filled activists with a sense of meaning. Without a understanding of who you are, without being able to look at yourself in the mirror and not be repulsed by what you see, and most of all by being able to love yourself enough to publicly fight for your rights no one in history would have ever accomplished anything. Gay pride is the de facto life force of the liberation movement for without it no activist would ever have been able to transcend the overwhelming social hate, let along win victories.
Crucial victories which, of course, won the gay community respect among the populace. However, to gay defeatists showing off gay pride is actually disrespectful. This absurd notion is derived from the half-baked logic of: “Well, there are gay people in Uganda and Russia who are unable to even hold hands in public without threat of being killed. By showing pride here [in American and Eastern European nations] we are insulting those who lack such basic rights.” Ha! Excuse me while I vomit my displeasure. This statement is strangely hypocritical for several reasons. The first of which resides in the simple fact that we North Americans and Europeans do not live in those hellish parts of the world in which homosexuality is still persecuted to such a draconian degree. The second reason lies in the very language the defeatist uses-“…hold hands in public without being killed…”- a unmistakably clear echo of ignorance; not only does public hatred of homosexuals happen in the more “progressive” locales of the world but it happens to the defeatist everyday: discrimination (housing, education, employment), misinformation (homosexuals chose their orientation, all gays are child molesters and recruit them to become gay, gays can change their orientation through prayer, etc), and many other publicly sponsored hate campaigns directly contribute to the deaths of untold numbers of Western homosexuals thus destroying the illusory claim that Western queers are somehow “better off” than their African, Asian, and South American compatriots.
No, it is not “disrespectful” to those who are unable to publicly hold hands because we-Westerners- are still heavily discriminated against on a daily basis in every sector of our lives. In fact, dare I say, it is a vital aspect of development being able to show pride since it slams the community bigots revealing the time tested gay will to fight. This affirms our brothers and sisters struggle in those other parts of the world and shows solidarity with them by not forgetting, or forfeiting, the fruits of our won arduous struggles. Showing pride in this manner not only holds out the ideal of what one can accomplish with mass struggle but also displays a history of militant democratic action.
Still, despite this obvious triumph the gay defeatist still trudge on with their asinine claims by now saying that displaying pride is “supremacist.” Once refuted of their disrespectful nonsense, an opinion of which is disrespectful to those of us who have actually gone out in public and fought for freedom, they promptly move on to this ridiculous statement: “Gay pride is wrong because it is inherently a gay supremacist ideology which promotes one category of people above another simply due to the way they were born.” Well, I will give the defeatist this: at least they know enough to understand that homosexuality is an unchangeable inborn trait. Other than this, however, this is another claim which deserves to be refuted in detail.
First to be debunked is this “supremacist” notion. Here the defeatist is employing the language of fascism in an attempt to dissuade other from displaying pride. The catch is that because gay pride is pride it is automatically lumped in with White Pride- a la White Nationalism, otherwise known as fascism. This is simply untrue. Gay pride, unlike white pride, does not seek a separate nation state for gay people, it is not anti-Semitic, it does not seek a Furor to rule over one race of people, and it is not ethnocentric. It is completely unrelated to white pride and fascism with no conceivable connections outside worldly semantics.
The statement that it is “supremacist” also originates from the defeatist’s statement that one is showing pride for a trait which one was born with; that no effort on the individual’s part was required for this to develop. They commonly say that because of this it is supremacist or is not something which should be encouraged. Again, this is outright false in the sense that, while it did, indeed, not require any effort on anyone’s part to develop, it is required as it rejects gay shame.
Here we see the defeatist confuse present oppression with future liberation: they seem to believe that there is no more bigotry and oppression directed at gay people. In other words, they fail to understand that gay pride is not used as a supremacist tool but instead as an affirmation of gay dignity and respect. Assuming all gay and lesbians were free and not discriminated against in any conceivable manner this statement of theirs would be true. However, such fantasy is far from the current reality. Gay men and Lesbian women face discrimination in every aspect of their lives. Because the gay defeatists believe otherwise, however, they fail to grasp that gay pride is justified as it rejects the bigoted community’s lies, myths, and misconceptions. It is a tool to empower youth and the belittled, not a fascistic domination device aimed at stripping the heterosexual of their “rights.”
This is an important fact because white people have never been discriminated against. They have never been fired from a job for being white, they have never been kicked out of their apartment for being white, and they have never been despised by other whites for being white. Within the North American continent white Anglo-Americans have always held power. Because of these facts it is not justified for white people to rant on about “White Pride,” and “White Power.” They are the controlling majority, not the discriminated against minority.
The gay defeatist overlooks this glaring fact though and continues the same tired line refusing to understand that gay people are more than right in their insistence of showing pride because unlike their heterosexual, often white, peers they have always been powerless, oppressed, and hated. The gay community must use pride to counteract the hatemongers because it is the only weapon we have. This line extends to justifying gay pride parades and revealing that any “Heterosexual Pride Parades” are not only unacceptable but highly offensive to those who have felt the harsh sting of modern capitalist societal relations.
Moving on to our next defeatist topic we encounter: “Wearing pride is stupid because it doesn’t serve as a vehicle for liberation but just as something for the person to show off.” This point is nearly worthless but deserves some attention anyway. First off, the speaker here makes a broad generalization that all individuals, whether they be young or old, male or female, display pride not to refute the socially ingrained hatred that the religious right has engrained but instead for the selfish purpose of wanting nothing more than to show off and garner attention.
Such a point is impossible to prove. While some undoubtedly do display pride for such reasons I can say that in all my time of activism that naught a single queer I have encountered have done as much. The notion is as repulsive as it is incorrect.
The second point here is that the defeatist chides the displayer because according to their twisted logic showing off pride is not a powerful liberation tool. Now, once more this is inane. Not only does such a statement disprove the defeatist’s earlier claims of pride not being an acceptable tool at all but it assumes that even if it were ineffective than it should be dropped despite all its other positive qualities. Both outlooks destroy the defeatists own points and end goal.
When pushed back on this point they have but only to accept that the pride wearer is displaying pride not to shock people or create a scene, as the defeatist would like to insinuate, but as the modest self-expression that everyone is entitled to: freedom of expression, and freedom to fight for your rights and show the world that you are not afraid of their disapproval.
Disapproval is, of course, one of the primary reasons why the gay defeatists do not wear gay pride symbols or slogans- because they are scared of being labeled in their community. This excuse is what defines the defeatists: refusal to see reality. In here the gay defeatist fails to recognize that the community will label him regardless of whether or not he shows pride (i.e. activism). Part of being born into an oppressed community is the constant disapproval from those who hold power. No amount of words will change the bigots’ thoughts if the only thing you are doing is existing, trying to quietly etch by a living.
This fact is something immigrants know very well: people hold hurtful views if you are different. If you are ‘out’ than you are fair game for the hatemongers. There is no law amongst them that only the prideful gays are the ones which are to be targeted. Any out homosexual, and even any who are perceived to be homosexual, are targeted. This glaring hole in the defeatist’s logic makes them lose sight of the goal of liberation: if you are going to be targeted than you minus well make the most of it by being active and attempting to gain allies. No other way is positive change going to be brought about.
Some of the more clever defeatists try and use logic to the tune of “Well, I can be active in the community without labeling myself as ‘that gay kid.’” This ignores the same fact that if you are out people will label you anyway, so while being labeled you need to be prideful of your orientation and proudly display it for all to see; instead of labeling it cowering in the dark. Our enemies will use your cowardice as ammunition for their counter-revolution.
Gay defeatists say that gay pride is obsolete precisely because victories have been won. Those with pride were the ones who openly fought for equal rights and gay marriage; not the defeatists who spread slander against those who actively fight. This train of thought is blind self-defeat. In the United States the majority of states do not allow homosexual marriage, some even have a constitutional amendment prohibiting legalization. On top of this, discrimination still runs rampant in all corners of society: name calling, firings, gay bashings, and murder; is this the societal stage that the defeatists call “progress;” Progress that has reached the point where pride needs to be discarded in favor of conformism? The absurdities couldn’t be any more ridiculous if one added cartoon characters.
In this way the gay defeatists are abiding the counter-revolutionaries in their reactionary campaign. A cornerstone of conservative ignorance is saying that gay marriage does not need to be legalized because gay rights have progressed to such a height unthinkable decades prior. If we ignore the idealism here on the part of the conservative (namely that there is no cause for marriage as homosexuals are already equal) than we are left with two ideological adversaries-the reactionary and the defeatist- who historically have opposed each other, yet, in the defeatist’s embrace self-loathing, has found “middle ground” with the bigoted; thus affirming his opportunist nature.
Affirmation of pride is the only path forward. Without pride we as queers are as invisible as the Muslim community is persecuted. Without pride we are fragile and prone to shame and failure. One cannot battle for equality while roaming the pitiful recesses of the forsaken. Any activist who has faced adversity will tell you that there are moments in your life where you must reject the hate of the political right and shout: “I am proud to be who I am- you will not shame me!” There comes a time where pride is the only means of liberation.