LGBT Pride month is about far more than the word “pride” suggests. Just as the 1960s “black is beautiful” cultural movement sought to challenge white paradigms of beauty, LGBT Pride seeks to counter the myth that people whose sexual orientations and gender identities do not conform are damaged or evil. LGBT Pride is not about boasting or “flaunting” ourselves, as our critics on the religious right say. It’s about celebrating the very characteristics for which they’ve persecuted us for centuries. It’s about claiming our right to equality and to celebrating the disproportionate number of achievements people like us have contributed to science, industry, socio-political reform and the arts, despite our relatively small numbers and the discrimination we’ve endured.
The hundreds of festivals and parades observed worldwide in June to commemorate the Stonewall uprising that launched the gay civil rights movement seek to snatch pride from the jaws of shame. The religious right claims our celebrations are intended to indoctrinate youth and shove our sexuality in their faces. If human sexuality and gender were so simple that mere exposure to LGBT people could change the natures of children, then by extrapolation there would be no LGBT people on earth, since we’re exposed far, far more often to straight people than they are to us.
If LGBT Pride is about shoving anything, it’s about shoving aside the right’s judgment and reveling in our true selves. In recent years, Pride has also been about sharing our socio-political triumphs — advancements that were inconceivable a decade ago.
Pride is not only for LGBT people. It’s said that everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day, when the entire community joins in the local parades and festivities. In a perfect world, everyone would join the Pride festivities in their hometowns as well, to celebrate not only the LGBT community but also the things that they are proud of.
Whether it’s a promotion at work or a successful weight-loss program, a new grandchild or a new love, there’s something in your life to celebrate.
Whatever it is that you’re proud of, pack it in your heart and head to the Summerfest grounds on June 6–8 to enjoy spectacular entertainment and a glimpse of what Pride looks like. We guarantee you won’t turn gay, and you’ll have a great time.
Check the PrideFest pull-out section in this issue to see the awesome line-up of talent that the volunteers who organize PrideFest have pulled together this year — perhaps the best ever in the history of the nation’s premiere Pride festival.
In this, the first issue of our month-long Pride series, we look at pride from a variety of perspectives. With all the negativity and challenges that we all face every day, take this opportunity to celebrate your gifts, to bask confidently in your authentic selves and honor your LGBT friends and family members.
The take-away message of LGBT Pride is to live with authenticity and without shame, to be the best you possible every day and in every way.