Does the whole concept of Pride ever strike anyone else as rather odd? Naturally I’m talking about LGBTQ Pride, and not your everyday kind of humdrum pride gotten from remembering to lug out the trash on garbage day or stopping yourself from eating your roommates’ leftover pirogues. Don’t get me wrong, I’m totally swept up in it all and actually had the Buffalo Pride Fest weekend surpass my love of Christmas in terms of anticipation and overall enjoyment. I wear my colors with a great swelling in my bosom, but here and there I have to stop and think, “wait Michelle, what are you actually proud of?”
I think the whole Gay Pride movement began shortly after the epic Stonewall riots back in the 60’s that counter intuitively did not feature fighting for either side by Gen ‘Stonewall’ Jackson. It would have been nice if he could have stood with our camp, but nevertheless. The idea, if I understand correctly (dubious given my previous statement), is that one should have pride in their sexual identity and gender expression. Both are inherent to a person at the core, unchangeable, and therefore the opposite of ‘shame’ should apply to any feeling regarding this. I can dig that, certainly. I don’t feel any shame in my gender identity, even though it means I’m transitioning into a less empowered class.
What makes me wonder though if ‘pride’ is the right expression is that I didn’t actually do anything to be born this way? That’s really it. I see tee shirts all the time that say things like ‘Proud to be Irish’ or even for some reason ‘Proud to be Polish’ and shake my head. What is there to be proud of? That your ancestors through a zany chain of mishaps, invasions, and forced relocations found their way to someplace the stronger tribes didn’t want, slaughtered or absorbed the indigenous populations, and were randy enough to produce descendants? Yay them, but what the hell did you do? If you are here in America, you don’t even live there anymore. All kind of baffling.
I do have pride in being transgender, but also recognize I didn’t really contribute much to my own state of being. I survived, sure, but I get to feel proud of that on my birthday when everyone acknowledges that I somehow managed to not die in the past year. I’m kind of proud about transitioning, but as we discussed many times in the past, it was kind of a necessity, like jumping off a burning boat, so again, I can’t take a whole lot of credit there, even if I’m like a cat water and deathly afraid of sharks.
Yes, yes, you all know I’m eventually going to get to the point, so here it is. We need to be proud because we have opposition. Without opposition, we could just go about saying, “I’m basically OK, in a status quo kind of way”. Because we have sizable groups of people dedicated to denying us rights, denying our basic existence, and even wishing to deny us the right to continue breathing, we have to express something stronger about the whole thing. Blasé indifference could easily be misconstrued as a passive means of admitting we are wrong for who we are. We simply can’t have that.
I suppose another positive adjective would have worked just as well – exuberant, munificent, supercalifragilisticexpialidocious – but pride is probably the best choice. We all stand a reasonable chance of spelling it correctly, and I also like the fact that it’s personal. When we talk pride, we talk about ourselves and ourselves only without putting anything on anyone else. We don’t need society to be proud of us; all we need is to recognize that we exist, we matter, and frankly we are pretty freaking awesome.
So, as June finally rolls around in Buffalo, and Pride Fest blooms again, I’ll be out there and hopefully so will you. If you can show your pride at Dingus Day, an obscure festival that involves getting whupped with pussy willow branches, this should be a no brainer.