Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Why Pride?

Grammar Nazis please be warned, im exhausted, and writing this on my phone. So it will be full of errors, and I really cant be bothered at this point to spell check or fix them. Sorry for any pain this may cause your soul.
Ok, so this post has been rolling around and ranting in my head for a while. I've debated if it needs to be written, or if I am even qualified to write it. But the end of June, and Pride month is nigh, and basically I need something to do to keep me awake on the ferry ride home, so that I have some chance of breaking my pattern this week and being able to fall asleep before one am.
Also, the other day, my friend who is a great friend, and a great ally, asked me a legitimate question, that I think a lot of people have, but are afraid to ask, because in asking, you will often get your head bit off.  So im just going to give you my best answer, in my very fatigued state, with my limited knowledge and experience.
The questions my friend asked me, were why do you need pride? Why dont we have heterosexual pride? Why is there black history month? Why isn't there white history month? And why did you guys steal the rainbow from everyone else?
So, the reason you might get your head bit off for asking these things, is that it reveals just how privileged your life is, and how little you understand or think about how much your life and culture surrounds you and is broadly accepted and the norm in everyone's day to day. Its ok, honestly, I've asked some of those questions at points in my life as well, im not going to bite your head off.
What I would like to do instead is just share a few things, not all the things, because there are a lot of reasons to answer all the questions above, and like I said, I havent been sleeping much this week and my brain is just too tired to do all the answering. So here is a start...
Why pride? Well first maybe we should answer what is Gay/LGBT+ pride, and why is it mostly in June? Why do gay people get to have a party and celebrate their depraved lives by naming around on floats mostly naked? (I wrote that, because I know some of you think that, not because it is at all how I feel, obviously).
Pride started, as I understand it, from the stone wall riots in New York, decades ago.  Basically gay people were being arrested, beaten, and treated rather horribly for just existing, so lead by trans women of color and lesbians they started protesting for their right to exist and be treated as humans.  Though pride can look a bit like a party, and sometimes there is half naked dancing on floats, and sometimes there is just general nakedness, this is not always the case, nor is it the point. Pride is a peaceful protest of those who wish we dont exist by lgbt people banding together and just existing. In public. Sometimes very loudly, and sometimes pretty family ly. Thats not really a word, but im tired so it is today.
Especially this year after orland, it was a time of saying, you may kill us, but we are still going to keep existing and loving, and being ourselves any way. But we would love it if you would stop killing and beating us, and just let us be, just as you are.
See, sometimes people beat or kill LGBT people just for how they look, how they dress, or for something as simple as holding hands. Probably most at risk are trans women of color. And that's just sad humanity. Sad, sad, it makes me sad.
But even more than that, a lot of lgbt people are often very isolated, feel alone, and are taught to hate themselves. One month a year there is a place to come together and know, hey im not the only one having this life experience that is completely different than I was told it should be.
So what is pride like any way? I know before I went, I had a lot of different ideas, mostly I thought it was just crazy off the wall debauchery.  My first pride three years ago completely shattered that idea. I went to a small county pride, in kitsap county. It was tiny.  There wasnt even a parade. Just a bunch of booths, mostly with resources to help people survive in a very lonely and isolated world where they didn't exactly seem to fit. I found a book club there, and mostly, it was kind of boring, and very family friendly. There were drag queens, that was the only thing I saw there that fit my pre conceived notions. It was a quiet, peaceful, sunday gathering, where people were just safe to publicly be with their family. Families that arent always welcomed, families that may normally get people saying rude or threatening things to them, or weird stare, here they could just be.
The next year I went to Seattle's pride. And I marched with mormons building bridges. This was quite a different experience, because seattle pride is massive, and I just did the main parade. And we did wait next to a float of scantily clad men dancing on a float. And the quite oppositly clad  gay dads. And though this second year of pride, I saw a lot more body parts and dancing, I still also just saw a lot of families, together.
This year I didnt march. I went with some friends,  and my girlfriend and her daughter. There was still a festivness, and dancing. But it was also very somber. Lots of remembrances for those that died in orlando. And, though they are also there every year, it seemed even more so this year- a great many people showed up to pride to protest our existance.
Every year people die during pride, killed by people who dont want lgbt people to exist. This happens outside of pride too, but going to pride isn't completely risk free, and this year that was more apparent than ever. Some people I know chose to stay home with their families, and not take that risk. No one can blame them.
When holding the person you loves hand is such a risk, when any show of affection  could result in a violent death, that is why there is pride. When countries still put people in jail, or to death who are consenting adults, just for loving eachother. That is why there is pride. If you want heterosexual pride, im sure you could have a celebration, and no one would stop you. But you can kiss your spouse in public, and no one will kill you for it, and apart from maybe some awkward teenagers that would mock anything and everything, no ones probably going to say anything to you about it either.
So, thats not every reason, or a full and comprehensive history,  but basically thats why there is pride. So some people that are pretty marginalized have a day, a month, a time, to carve out some kind of existance against a society still full of people trying desperately to extinguish their exiatance.
I have a question though,  if you did go forward with it, and decided you wanted to have straight person pride, what would that look like? How would it be different from your day to day?  I personally think it would get pretty boring, pretty quickly, because its so run of the mill, I dont know that it would be worth the effort. I mean, look at valentines day. People already dread that a lot.  Pretty much you can celebrate your existance by being you every day, and no one is gonna much hassle you for it, unless you are being a jerk to others...
Which leads me on to black history month, and why we dont have white history month and celebrations. Have you ever opened a history book? Did you ever notice how most the people we learn about are white males, with the occasional some one else thrown in? So since that is history 24-7, 12-365, what other corner of history would you like? I mean, there is seriously only the limit of available records and archeological findings stopping you learning all about white history,  and even then, you kind of need to pick a specialty, because there is so much available. But how much do you know, beyond Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr (and very basically at that) about black history? How about Pacific islanders, or Asians in your part of the world? What about the Hispanic and native american cultures? Did they have no great importance or bearing on our history? In our current society? I think they do, and these months are an opportunity to celebrate and learn about cultures and people that we dont really get to hear very much about in history class, or otherwise, unless you really work to persue it on your own.
Also, have you thought about the number of historical/cultural celebrations available for learning about say, european ancestors? Like viking fest in poulsbo, and the highland games/clan gatherings all over the us, in utah -the days of 47, Pioneer day celebrations, Oktoberfest is another,  and the list goes on and on. There are so many days and ways to celebrate your white heritage, pretty much year round. You've already got that covered, but its so abundant,  it can be hard to recognize. I wont get into racial privilege, and systematic oppression, im tired, and this is long, so, some other day. But, seriously we have p leanty of white culture and history,  no one is shorting us by adding their stories to humanity for a month a year as well.
Lastly, on the rainbow.  I will share a link to a video on how the pride flag (click flag) came about, and then im just gonna say this... the rainbow is a natural occurring beauty, that a plethora of peoples and cultures have used through time to convey symbols of their culture, religion, or mythology. Everyone has and will to continue to use it for something deeply and personally symbolic to them, and or their culture, and no one group doing  that can take away from the meaning of another. If the rainbow appears to have been commandeered from your culture and appropriated by another, that speaks more of your own personal loss of the personal meaning of your cultures interpretation of its depth and beauty. If it means anything to you, no one else's meaning of it can steal from your own, be it, biblical, something to do with a pot of gold, or the beauty and spectrum of Human existance and diversity.
Well, I think I answered all I set out to. Hopefully this has given you something to think about. If it made you feel defensive, no doubt my tired tone contributed,  but also  ask yourself why? Did it make you think of something that disrupted your personal comfort, or maybe showed a bit of your privilage?  We all have privilage of some kind or another, the key is to recognize this and try to feel what someone without that might go through.
Well, I hope this made sense. I made it all the way to my car without falling asleep. Thanks for letting me ramble to stay awake, please forgive the many explanatory short comings and grammar errors.