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Pride Still Matters
So Keep Celebrating
opinion jesse’s journal
The Day After Pride
Many of you will be reading this article
after one of this month’s many LGBT Pride
events. First established to commemorate
the Stonewall Riots of June 27-28, 1969,
LGBT Pride is now observed worldwide as a
community-wide celebration that unites all
genders, races, classes and lifestyles.
By taking part in Pride events, we assert
who we, as individuals and as a people. We
contribute all that is good in us to Pride
events and in return Pride makes us feel
good about ourselves and others like us.
In short, Pride is a tremendous morale
booster and an antidote to self-hatred and
internalized heterosexism, homophobia and
Unfortunately, Pride events are usually
followed by all-too real and not very proud
reality. After Pride ends, we return to a world
that seems to hate us as much as it did before
Pride began. Back in the 1980s, bad news
always seemed to follow a Pride celebration.
As if the mounting AIDS casualties were not
bad enough, Pride Month 1986 ended with
the now-infamous Supreme Court decision
in Bowers v. Hardwick (since overruled by
Lawrence v. Texas).
The 1987 March on Washington for
Lesbian and Gay Rights (which was a Pride
event writ large) was soon followed by U.S .
Senate approval of one of the late Senator
Jesse Helms’s notorious amendments that
would have banned federal assistance for
LGBT or AIDS groups. Pride Month will not
keep AIDS from killing us, bashers from
hurting us, or bigots from trying to send us
back into our closets.
But Pride parades and festivals do not last
forever and, once Pride Month ends, the
emotional and spiritual energy we acquired
during those events seem to disappear. This
does not have to be this way. Pride, as a state
of mind as opposed to a particular event,
should be with us year-round.
I admit that it is natural and essential for
humans to rest after an overly-active week
or month of celebration; in order to recharge
our batteries, relax and enjoy ourselves.
But LGBT and questioning kids continue
to take their own lives; same-sex loving
men continue to test HIV positive; queers
everywhere continue to suffer from hate
crimes and antigay violence; and bigots of
all kinds continue to make life hard for us.
Therefore, it is important that we keep the
spirit of Pride alive long after Pride is over.
Let Pride be not an end but a beginning. For
some of us, the annual Pride events are our
only contact with the rest of our community.
But do not wait until next year for your next
contact. Let the goals of Pride Month be your
goals for life:
1. TAKE PRIDE IN YOURSELF
Internalized homophobia is still a part
of our lives. “Ex-gay” groups prey on those
of us who still believe what straight society
taught us. Do not let yourselves fall into that
trap. Nor should you let confusion and self-
hatred lead you into addictive behaviors,
unsafe sex, loneliness or suicide. There are
many individuals and groups that can help.
2. COME OUT
If all the lesbians, gay men, bisexuals,
transgender and intersex people who “come
out” for Pride Month remain out, society
would surely have to notice. Studies show
that heterosexuals who personally know
LGBT people tend to be less prejudiced than
those who do not. Though announcing our
sexual orientation might not be right for
all of us, being honest with our loved ones
seldom hurts and usually improves our
relationships. And if the person in question
turns you off because you are LesBiGay or
Trans, more often than not that person is
not worth our effort.
3. HELP A FRIEND IN NEED
As the Jewish sage Hillel observed, “If I
am not for myself, who will be for me? If I
am for myself alone, what am I? If not now,
when?” Closely linked to taking Pride in
ourselves is taking pride in our sisters and
brothers. If you know someone who is in
a life-threatening situation - whether it be
AIDS, cancer, substance abuse, impending
suicide, domestic violence, homelessness
or hopelessness - give them a helping hand,
always remembering that they, too, have
their Pride. If you do not know anyone
who needs our help (though I find it hard
to believe), volunteer to help at your local
AIDS organization, battered women’s home,
homeless shelter or community center.
There is enough Pride to go around.
“FAMILY OF PRIDE”
It is impossible to take part in Pride
events without encountering a variety of
community organizations. They serve a
variety of purposes, not the least of which
is the reassurance that we are not alone.
There are literally thousands of LGBT and
AIDS-service organizations in the U.S.
and Canada, all of which translate into
thousands of reasons that we can proud of.
Surely there are at least one that you can
call your own. By joining such a group, you
will get involved in activities that you enjoy,
meet like-minded people and help make our
world a better place to live in.
I do not have to remind you that we live
in a tough world. Things are often not easy
for us, and things might get worse if we do
not watch out. As the saying goes, if we are
not part of the solution we are part of the
problem. Let us make Pride work for us, by
fighting for our lives, our communities and
for our rights. There is a variety of activist
groups that can use your political energies,
from those that work within the system
to more aggressive, “in your face” entities.
If you feel you do not have the time for
active involvement, then vote, write, phone
or email your representatives and make a
financial contribution to your local LGBT
All of this should keep the adrenalin
flowing and the Pride growing throughout
the coming year. Let LGBT Pride be more
than just a slogan. In the immortal words
of gay folk singer Charlie Murphy, we must
“love life enough to struggle.” Working
together, we can make a difference.
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