Saturday, June 4, 2016

Celebrating LGBT Pride Month

Ah, June – also known as LGBT Pride Month.  It's the time of year when that most iconic LGBT sigil – the rainbow flag – becomes the central motif of our summer celebrations. It decorates our homes, our businesses, our cars, our bodies, hell, even our pets!
A friend of mine once remarked of me that for a “relatively straight-acting gay man” (don't even get me started on that blatantly oxymoronic turn-of-phrase) I had more rainbow-clad gear than anyone he knew.
I've never understood how displaying pride gear engenders the expectation of other stereotypical behavior, but, whatever.
For my part, I think it's just about wanting to make the world around me as colorful as the one inside my head.
I have never been too much the flamboyant type. ...Okay, that's a lie – a giant, blatant, big, buggering falsehood! In truth, when I first came out of the closet back in 1997, I came crashing out!  I must have embraced every stereotype out there: the effeminate behavior, the "swish", the catty attitude, the fashion sense, hell, I even did drag – and I was pretty damn good at it, too, I don't mind telling you!
As I got older and became a somewhat more spiritually-focused person, I grew out of most that.  ...Oh I still fit into the gay stereotype in a lot of ways, they're just less obvious now.  Having said that, even still, it is freakin' hilarious to me when someone, such as a co-worker or outside observer, is surprised to learn about my orientation.

Some thoughts about self-hating gays

A few years ago, during my now infamous and mercifully brief foray into restaurant management, a co-worker – indeed a very lesbian co-worker – told me the rainbow button I wore on my hat “bothered” her.  “It’s hard enough for gay people to get ahead in this world,” she told me. “It’s even worse in small town, rural upstate New York.  I think it is unprofessional be so ‘out there’ with our sexuality in the work place.  It places us at a disadvantage because of people’s unspoken prejudices.”
Never mind that this little nugget of wisdom, fully soaked in her own self-righteousness, comes from the mind of a woman who openly admits contempt for the LGBT community, which, in my humble opinion makes her the worst kind of gay person: a self-hating one! ...But, I digress.
Listen, I don't agree with everything that goes on in the LGBT community – especially among gay men. And I, too, have wrestled with what seems to be the inevitable self-loathing that comes from getting older in this community. But sometimes you've got to look at the larger picture. Motivational Speaker and Life Coach Joel Readence wrote a wonderful piece on this in The Huffington Post. He writes, "This community’s fight for equality and real acceptance is far from over. But we don’t stand a chance of reaching our goal if we destroy ourselves from the inside out."

Silence is deadly, unity is hope

Personally, I believe silence does us a greater disservice – even now, when LGBT people know more acceptance than ever before, and the rights of LGBT people are at the forefront of our national conversation. We have seen – especially recently – what happens when we become complacent and fall silent: eventually the bigots find a champion, and the march of progress comes screeching to a halt.
Nothing to me is more sickening than using the preservation of one person's rights as an argument for taking away the rights of someone else.
So bring on the rainbow flags!  Show your colors, gay America!  We are, after all, in the month set aside for that.  LGBT Pride isn’t just about celebrating ourselves individually, but the strength of who we are together.
...Wait what?  ...A united LGBT community?  Hell, that is worth celebrating!

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