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What does gay pride mean to you?


swt61

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June is gay pride month. 

 

I remember my first time marching in a gay pride parade. It was 1984 and I was 23 years old. It was in Anchorage, Alaska. I had just recently come out to my family, and I was finally ready to overcome my embarrassment and stand with my friends in a public setting. It was absolutely a milestone for me after years of shame.

During our march a protest group from the Anchorage Babtist Temple decided that they could not let a group of LGBTQ people come across as normal, and allow us a peaceful march.

I was personally spit on and damned to hell by a very Motherly looking woman in her 40s. A few people were actually slapped and punched. The police were called to the scene, but did nothing at all.

Instead of having the effect they had hoped for, it just cemented our will. That event more than any other started my personal quest for equal rights. About that same time period, Ronald Reagan's stance on AIDS activated my interest in politics.

While I don't really think of myself as an activist, I do believe in being out, open and taking a stand. I try to encourage others to do the same. 

I also remember a night at the gay dance club " The Village", when a group of gay bashers came in to wreak havoc. That didn't work out how they had planned, as they were vastly outnumbered. I'm sure they expected a group of "nelly" little queens to cower at their feet. But what actually happened was that they were outnumbered by about 5 to 1, beaten and  ran out of the club. Cops were called, but again did nothing, even though a license plate was observed and given.

Later I moved to Texas. In Texas I first lived in a town called Tyler. I moved there with two friends. In Tyler the rental properties are mostly managed by a few companies. We tried to find an apartment, and even though we all had good credit, could afford first and last months rent and so on, we kept being denied. I couldn't understand why. After about a week of trying multiple places with no luck, we happened to be at WalMart shopping. I noticed two obviously gay guys, went over and introduced myself, then told them about our plight. They told me about an untold rental policy against gay men, where 3 or more men would not be rented an apartment together. They told us that you have to act straight and apply with only one other male. I was a bit dumbfounded at that. After that we went another route and looked at renting houses from private owners. We found a place in one day.

3 years later I moved to Port Aransas, TX, to help my Mom with her storage business. In lovely Port Aransas I encountered sub contractors that would not work on site unless I left the jobsite. I actually put up with that for several years, then realizing that I was the main reason why the business was successful, I just declined to leave the jobsite. The subcontractor could either stop being a bigot and do his job with me there, or a new subcontractor could be hired. He chose to keep making money off of us, but still tried to be an intimidating prick. It didn't work.

I guess I'm spouting all of this because a recent post about parents going to gay pride with their child really got me thinking. Thinking how things have changed so much over the years, at least in California. I doubt things will change in small town Texas anytime soon.

I thought about how I had been embraced at my job for being a great carpenter, and treated as a valued co-worker by the crew and subs. I thought about how I hadn't heard the word "faggot" in 6 1/2 years. I thought about having a straight best friend that is completely unaffected by my homosexuality. I thought about the many LGBTQ people around me living their lives around other people that are almost oblivious to any difference. 

Not long after moving to Texas, I was doing some remodel work for an Aunt. One day off the top of her head she just said to me, "I don't mind gay people, I just don't like it when they flaunt it in my face". I had no idea what to say to that, so I said nothing. Maybe a day or two later she said, "at least you're not one of those militant gays". At that point I popped off with a sarcastic."yeah, I hate those, they're almost as bad as militant Black people". Expecting a shocked silence from her, I was instead bombarded with a tirade of agreement, only she didn't use the term Black people. She actually though I was being serious. I re-evaluated my need for money over my need for respect, and left that day, job unfinished. I haven't spoken a word to that Aunt since. 

Today I'm considering semi retirement, and evaluating where I can afford to live vs. where I want to live. I'm having a hard time imagining going back to that mindset. I would honestly rather struggle financially than mentally. Sometimes we forget how good things have gotten compared to how things had been previously. My mental health and sense of self worth, while not perfect, is better than it's ever been. I just want to recognize that. I want to thank all of you for being a part of that for me.

And I want to hear what you think about gay pride and what, if any effect it's had on you or your loved ones?

 

 

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What an incredible story Steve, and I so admire how you persevered throughout many times and places of ignorance and hatred.

In my life we've been blessed to have many family friends, several of whom are gay.  My father and stepmother were minority owners of a travel agency with a gay friend.  He was always part of the family, as were the owners of a B&B in Maine (since sold).  Many an event had these friends there, and we were all just part of the family (one of the B&B owners just happen to be a great cook, and made the best desserts I've ever had).

In college we had an LGTBQ club (and this was Babson College, a conservative Business School).  I had thought that an RA in my dorm was gay, but he never came out in school.  He is out many years now, and very happy I'm happy to say, today.

The only negative experience was with a friend in High School.  Chris never formally came out, but all of us knew he was gay and he was always just one of us.  I found out while in college that he killed himself.  I don't know the reasons, but I always feared he struggled with coming out; maybe something with his family, I don't know.

It's wonderful to see so much being the norm now, love is truly love.  But therefore it's so sad to see those spots where things are not normal, for gay people or any other person who is treated as an outcast.

Funny story: one year when Karen and I were in Ogunquit, she took me to a place called The Front Porch.  Very much a gay spot, though many different-sex couples like us would be there, too.  It was a lot of fun, but I had to admit I disliked the place.  Not because gay people were there, but because they sang (with wonderful voices though) too many show tunes.  And I really friggin' hate show tunes! 🤣

EDIT: and to answer the question, what does Gay pride mean to me?  It means I have more wonderful people in my life to teach me more about life and to be their wonderful selves.  

Edited by skullguise
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I'm just so happy to see how young people today have it easier than my generation did. And that also makes me so thankful for generations before me, that really had it hard, but persevered anyway. My Grandmother had a Cousin who way gay. She condemned gay people as much as anyone of her time did, but for some reason she had a place in her heart for her Cousin Ray. He was a hand model in NYC. He met a man named Terry in his early twenties, and their relationship outlasted my Grandparents. 68 years together, before Terry passed. They were amazing! Terry wrote jingles for commercials. Even my Grandfather so liked and respected them. After my Grandmother had passed, he still saw Ray and Terry, and he attended Terry's funeral. 

I wish I had told my Grandfather. But my Mother asked me not to, and I didn't fight her on that, though I should have. My Grandfather loved me dearly, and I would have loved to let him know me fully. I know that he would have been fine with it. It's kind of hard to describe how you can feel like a deceiver in your own family. It fucks with you.

Oh, and BTW, I hate showtunes too!

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Below is a personal history, but doesn’t really answer your question about what gay pride is, and afraid my answer there is pretty generic and from the outside - a time to celebrate, and show support, for a group of people, hidden and misunderstood too long. 

I've been very slow to a pickup on a lot of things (it took a biological daughter, not girlfriends or a sister or mother or grandmothers, let alone general history or lit, or eyes simply being open, to really kick off feminism in my life). Likewise, mostly my narrow worldview, but also growing up in a seemingly 183% straight, white, Christian Ohio farm town (our diversity was also having Amish straight, white, Christians), resulted in a radar that would best be described as "inactive." Of course, that wasn't how it really was and I hate in hindsight especially not being a better ally to a couple people. But once I went to college (keep in mind I'm old) for visual arts, it was a whole different picture. You know when some of your white friends really get into Blues, early Rock, R&B, and/or Jazz and it also transforms their view of race and they want to celebrate it? Well, probably not surprisingly substitute painting and sculpture and there are long periods of generally not the straight world where the rebellious magic is happening (even if different than a modern notion of orientation). The slightest tip of the iceberg hits [likely] da Vinci, Caravaggio and Michelangelo through Bacon, Warhol, Kahlo, and Hockney. It's practically an endless list and undeniable the contributions to larger America and the world. They brought a disproportionate shit ton of beauty into the world, we're all so much better for it, and we all should be proud (a little outsiders pride!). And any "issue" less significant than that, seemed pretty silly to continue to argue over to that art student. That was my dam breaking, and that change was certainly quickly reenforced as I got to know more and more people over the years, including you Steve. And next up my child wants to join the club. 

Also bad/good/great show tunes are bad/good/great!  

 

Edited by blessingx
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Firstly, thank you for sharing your story Steve. I am so, so sorry that you had to endure that pain throughout your life. I've never understood the violent expression of that kind of hatred toward another person. 

Personally, I have had many gay friends all my life, from high-school & long since into adulthood. I've always been a close friend & an ally. 

This month, I think of my mother's 85y/o cousin who passed-away just a few weeks ago. She had moved to Green Bay many years ago to live with her "friend" - a Catholic nun. Although most of us understood their relationship, her sexuality was never discussed openly amongst family (not that we necessarily should have). But I was always sad that she felt she had to move so far away from family to live her authentic self. Today, I have nieces & nephews in their twenties who are openly gay/trans, and am glad my family as a whole embrace them as they are. Maybe that's a sign that there has been progress & this is a better time.  Let's hope.

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I was born in '56, and when I was maybe 14 in '70 the school employed a black guy as a lab technician for the biology department.

It is to my eternal shame I never spoke to the guy. You see, in the North East of England that was the first black person I had ever seen - and I simply did not know, in my ignorance how to talk to him.

Now of course statistically, with 600 boys and girls, there simply had to be a fair number of gay people - or LGBTQ in a broader and more recent perspective. But if the topic was ever referred to it was in derogatory terms.

It took me a long time after that to shake off the prejudices, and the ignorance. But all of them went. I really appreciated your initiating this thread Steve. And I like you thank heavens we are living, certainly in our parts of the world (USA and Europe) in much more enlightened times. But in whole swathes of the world being gay is still illegal and gays persecuted.

Like it was in the UK - even in recent times, Thatcher introduced a law called Section 28, which made it illegal for local authorities to promote homosexuality: "shall not intentionally promote homosexuality or publish material with the intention of promoting homosexuality" or "promote the teaching in any maintained school of the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship". This was in the UK in 1988. When Thatcher was ousted in 1979 in a landslide by labour, they repealed it within a year of taking office, thank heavens. Wikipedia is your friend https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Section_28 . Now, thank heavens, gay marriage is enshrined in law, and the final barriers have tumbled

Back in history, the Roman army were encouraged to take a gay lover, on the basis that a fighter would fight more diligently if he was defending his lover fighting at his side.

Back to modern times, and just as a for instance, the one time CEO of the Brendoncare Foundation that my wife took over from, Paul (or Jules) subsequently became a Trustee. I got to know Paul and his partner Vital very well. Vital was a renowned stained glass artist and sculptor, and designed one of the windows in our house. He also designed windows for Oxford colleges and churches.

After bravely battling bowel cancer for a number of years, he alas died at the all too young age of 63.  This is the guy https://www.vitalpeeters.co.uk/  , and this is the window he designed and built for our house....

 

PXL_20240603_161040788[1].jpg

Edited by Craig Sawyers
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Posted (edited)

That's a beautiful piece!

 

My parents were racist. They'd never admit to that, and probably actually believe that they were not racist. But I grew up in a house where the "N" word was used often. I remember my Mom telling me not to make friends with Black kids in school, because they couldn't be trusted.

Even though I understood from an early age that way of thinking was wrong, some of that prejudice is bound to seep through. That's why racism is so prevalent. Because it's passed on through generations, because kids think their parents have the answers. 

My oldest Brother was my moral compass throughout my childhood and still today. He taught me to disregard that ideology, and that our parents were just wrong.

I fought that ideology, sometimes to the backlash of my parents. Through the years my Father became less and less racist. I know that was a hard thing for him, as his parents were even more racist than he was.

I'll never forget the day my Father happily helped my gay, Black friend fix the brakes on his car. That was a highpoint for me. It's amazing watching your parents grow up.

My Mother is better, but still says absolutely stupid, racist shit from time to time. I don't let those moments pass, and that does piss her off. Too bad. I'll never stop. 

I recognize that some of that stupid shit seeped into me at an early age. I also recognize that I have the education to rationalize how ridiculous those ideas are.

I've had 4 Black roommates, all at different times in my life. That drove my Mother crazy. She couldn't understand it. I sought out those roommates on purpose. They were friends first, but when the opportunity came to share an apartment, I chose to do so to help my own growth and understanding. I wanted to counter my upbringing. I definitely believe it helped me push back against not only my parents ideas, but all of my Texas relatives racist views that I was also subjected to in my childhood. Some of whom would flabbergast you with their pure hate towards other races.

It's OK to grow up with those ideas. It's immoral not to fight back against those ideas.

 

Edited by swt61
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It's that time of year when I get to snark.  "They only get one month?"  "July -- when merchants and retailers put all their rainbows on 50% off." "Love is love."  "I don't have to understand it to support it."  "Everyone deserves to be the best version of themselves, receiving the same emotional support from their friends and families as everyone else."  "In Chris Sajnog's book, Navy Seal Shooting, he urges people to find their motivation.  He also gets pretty transphobic.  I think my motivation is to protect people who are less prepared to protect themselves against people like Chris Sajnog."  "I think she might have a penis.  (beat)  I'd be alright with that." &c.

I mean, how could you want to deny people who are so obviously and artistically and beautifully in love their love?  That's just rotten.

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Here in Australia it was a very similar situation, lots of bashings and murders of gay men throughout the seventies and eighties, I can’t imagine how awful that would have been for a gay man growing up with all that going on.

Steve I truly admire your bravery, you must have very big balls.

Btw I’m the happy father of a gay son, I’m more proud than I could ever have imagined to be.

Edited by johnwmclean
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I didn't get a lot of abuse, physical or verbal. Just a few times when I was gathered in a gay event. 

I guess I'd use the term "passable". Most people don't catch on until they've known me a while, and then usually because I bring it up. 

I'm also not a small guy. And I have no fear of being hit (thanks Dad). It's been some time since I've been in a physical altercation, but I've gotten scrappy in the past. Usually defending a smaller, weaker gay friend. Nothing gets me more pissed off than a bully. Toss in a homophobic bully and we've got a fight. Luckily those are few and far between in the bay area.

There is one bully that I truly want to punch in the face though...

marjorie-taylor-greene-01-gty-iwb-220419_1650376877982_hpMain.jpg

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Steve said:

"My parents were racist. They'd never admit to that, and probably actually believe that they were not racist. But I grew up in a house where the "N" word was used often. I remember my Mom telling me not to make friends with Black kids in school, because they couldn't be trusted.

Even though I understood from an early age that way of thinking was wrong, some of that prejudice is bound to seep through. That's why racism is so prevalent. Because it's passed on through generations, because kids think their parents have the answers."

Which kind of reminds me of the Poem by Philip Larkin. Now all Larkin's poems were pretty dark - sort of the poetry equivalent of Arthur Miller plays. This one is called "This Be The Verse"

They fuck you up, your mum and dad

  They may not mean to, but they do

They fill you with the faults they had

  And add a few more, just for you

 

But they were fucked up in their turn

  By fools in old-style hats and coats

Who half the time were soppy-stern

  And half at one another's throats

 

Man hands on misery to man

  It steepens like a coastal shelf

Get out as early as you can

  And don't have any kids yourself

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I've been around gay people since early childhood so it's pretty normal.  My childhood friend who I've known since before we could walk is gay and we both knew he was gay by the time we finished junior school.  Had several other gay classmates too and it was no big deal, most of us had way more difficulty dealing with girls than gays.  Which isn't to say everything was great for them, it wasn't, 1980s Canada was more progressive than most places but gays still got lumped in with the nerds and picked on about the same amount. 

By the 90s when I was high school everyone was pretty much the same, there were very few distinctions between races, sexes, nationalities, or whatever.  Pretty much every social group was actually diverse, the group I hung out with had blacks, Indians, Asians, Pakistanis, whites, a couple gays, and a few girls too.  It was like whatever, we're just people.

At the same time, I did have TV & internet so I could see how different things were in other places and I was like "you can't be serious, what is wrong with people?"  And that's when I began to understand why gay pride parades and other such mass celebrations are a big deal.

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On a related note Steve, I found your retirement job in Knoxville tn. It’s a place called vintage lumber. No matter the context you’ve got to be their ideal employee. 

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In wonderful irony, the awful Anita Bryant's granddaughter in 2021 "...Sarah Green, came out publicly on an episode of Slate's One Year podcast series by announcing her pending marriage to a woman, although she was having difficulty deciding whether she should invite her grandmother to the ceremony."

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On 6/3/2024 at 10:26 AM, swt61 said:

There's no shame in being ignorant. There's only shame in staying ignorant. 

On 6/4/2024 at 12:25 PM, swt61 said:

My parents were racist.

I think most of our older (pre-boomer) folks don't change. Unfortunately, it may take much of them literally dying out for us to truly get past a lot of generational sins. This is a big conflict for me, as I am a staunch supporter of our "greatest generation" for their history, their contributions, & their many good qualities. But, my dad had severe prejudices. The racial stuff was more apparent. The anti-gay prejudice wasn't as openly talked about, but it was there. I had to do a lot of personal work, and boundary-setting as an adult to divorce myself from those prejudices. His downward spiral with dementia began as my nieces & nephews came of age & started to express themselves. I'm pretty sure he wouldn't have dealt with it well had he kept his faculties. Maybe that's the universe's way of making way for the new & is actually a saving grace? Dunno. Thankfully, my mom is the complete opposite & the epitome of unconditional love (I severely doubt my parents would have gotten together if they met today). Also, my two brothers have done a fantastic job of stopping those generational sins within their own families.

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It's funny how we're all so afraid of the word prejudice. It's taken on such a negative connotation, and rightly so, due to the way we've treated those different from ourselves. 

I've heard many times a Black person say that they can't be racist, like it's an impossibility. It's generally thrown on the shoulders of White people. I get the basic idea, but it's incorrect. Every human on this earth is susceptible to racism. Each and every one of us has the capacity to hate someone different than ourselves. 

If you break the word prejudice down, it literally means to pre-judge. Most Black people do that every time they're pulled over by a White cop. That's in no way to imply that they don't have damn good reason to do so, it's just describing what past experiences cause them to do.

We all do it. Some out of a healthy sense of fear. Some out of an ignorant sense of hate. But it's still pre-judging. The way through that for me was to immerse myself in someone else's world. 

I've told this story here before, but in the mid 80's I moved into a new group of condos near a lake in Anchorage. It was a very nice part of town. It's was during a recession in the country, and these brand new condos weren't selling. They ended up renting them, and still had to entice people with lots of extras. I had free utilities, a washer and dryer installed in the unit, two underground parking spaces etc...

I asked a Black friend to move in with me, since it was a two bedroom. Shortly after moving in, he went to walk his dog by the lake around 6:00 at night. Being winter, it was dark. He was gone for over an hour for what was normally a 10 minute walk on a very cold night. Finally there was a knock on the door. I opened it to see two cops holding him. They didn't asked me if he lived there, but instead stated "This man claims to live here". I immediately got cocky (because I'm White, and didn't have a fear of cops) and spat out "because he fucking does". The more worked up I got, the more that my Black roommate tried to calm me down, even though they were still holding both of his arms as though he was a criminal about to bolt at any second. It took a while to get them to let him go. I was fuming! "What's the sentence for walking a dog while Black"? I was really laying into them. 

Living with a Black person really opens your eyes to what they live with on a regular basis. The shit that should be so simple and benign can be dangerous if you are of another color other than White. I don't think you can truly experience that kind of overt racism from a distance.

To follow up on that incident...

My best friend at that time was named Zoya. Zoya's parents loved me, as I loved them. Zoya's father was a Lutienent at APD (Anchorage Police Department). I passed on the incident and badge numbers. They had met my roommate many times. I'm not sure if getting their asses chewed out caused them to slow down and think things through, but it sure made my roommate and myself feel better.

 

Edited by swt61
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IMHO humans have very few things to be proud of. Our sexual intercourse preferences, our genre at birth, our skin tone, height, and facial features, our religion, our political opinions, our cultural roots and language, and even our material achievements and possessions shouldn't be among them. I believe and support that all humans should be considered equals, and respected, and should have the same opportunities and be considered the same in front of the law. We come from times that all that wasn't granted, and we live in times that all of it is not granted yet. As such it's wonderful that a part of the population that suffered prosecution and incarceration for their preference and inclination (yes, in my so free and tolerant country too, never forget Franco his 40 years of dictatorship and these other 40 years that seem democracy but still have the same people's sons and grandsons handling the reins) can openly show them. No one should judge if such preference was given at birth or elected,  but I support that they can claim their rights, respect and to be considered equals. On the other hand I feel ashamed and deeply sad that we still need a parade and some sort of party celebration to demonstrate that most people are morons, that can't accept that we're not all the same and that diversity is part of our richness as species. It's not the same thing to be equals and to be the same.

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1 hour ago, Torpedo said:

IMHO humans have very few things to be proud of. Our sexual intercourse preferences, our genre at birth, our skin tone, height, and facial features, our religion, our political opinions, our cultural roots and language, and even our material achievements and possessions shouldn't be among them. I believe and support that all humans should be considered equals, and respected, and should have the same opportunities and be considered the same in front of the law. We come from times that all that wasn't granted, and we live in times that all of it is not granted yet. As such it's wonderful that a part of the population that suffered prosecution and incarceration for their preference and inclination (yes, in my so free and tolerant country too, never forget Franco his 40 years of dictatorship and these other 40 years that seem democracy but still have the same people's sons and grandsons handling the reins) can openly show them. No one should judge if such preference was given at birth or elected,  but I support that they can claim their rights, respect and to be considered equals. On the other hand I feel ashamed and deeply sad that we still need a parade and some sort of party celebration to demonstrate that most people are morons, that can't accept that we're not all the same and that diversity is part of our richness as species. It's not the same thing to be equals and to be the same.

Ask a programmer to explain the difference of equality by value,

And equality by identity / reference.

Equality by Value can be user defined. So in an ideal world all humans would be equal, because they are all valued the same, even if they are different.

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For the most part I agree Antonio. But I think most people have a misunderstanding of the the term gay pride. It's not about being proud to have sexual relations with the same sex. It's not about being proud to have romantic relations with the same sex. It's about being proud of how far we've come in society. It wasn't but a handful of years ago that we could be imprisoned for being homosexual. It's only been a few decades ago that we were dragged out of bars and beaten by police for dancing with each other. It's been even less time since Ronald Reagan refused to take any action whatsoever about AIDS, and was happy to watch large populations of gay people die.

And now when we've just begun to make some headway, the Republican party wants to pull the rights we've earned away again. 

Good luck putting the genie back in the bottle.

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I know, Steve. The sad part is that after all these years, the motivation to celebrate and being proud isn't that much. I think that we should have a protest to claim for so many things that aren't right, that sexual/genre preference/orientation/practice isn't even an achievement to be proud of. Gay men and women still die. Minorities die. Poor people die... My point is that it shouldn't be celebrated as a parade but as a serious protest.

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