President Obama has third graders announce LGBTQ pride month at the White House. Whose idea was that? Even POTUS looked a little incredulous. Obviously I don’t have any problem with 3rd graders manning the barricades but… perhaps we can have kittens next time… or puppies… or fluffy yellow chicks… or a new born foal?
The gays are in Pride party overdrive. Circuit parties, sex parties, pride events, bear parties, underwear parties, mourning parties, party parties.
When Joe and I lived in The Pines on Fire Island we went, over the years, to various high-octane, drug fueled, over lubricated, semi-naked circuit parties. Yet, however many drugs I took, however great my body was… I still felt alienated. I still experienced a strange, out-of-body disconnect from those men around me. You see, I remember thinking quite clearly that they… GOT IT… and I didn’t. I thought back then… they understand something more about homosexuality than I did… than I do.
Don’t get me wrong… I wasn’t looking down my nose at them. I wasn’t feeling superior. I would love to have connected with those men. Like I used to feel connected (high on E) in my mid twenties exploring London (straight) club land. The same heaving mass that miraculously included me. Joyfully, willingly abandoning self, self consciousness terminal uniqueness and dancing as one with a thousand others.
That is what I felt then. This is what I feel now: To have ones life defined by gay circuit parties is simply revolting.
Some people prepare for weeks for Pride, in the gym, tanning, organizing parties, getting the right tickets for the right events. Making sure the drink and the drugs are pre-ordered. Leaving nothing to chance. The last ‘pride’ parade I attended I saw a drunken man defecating in the street. It was not the enduring image of LGBTQ solidarity after which I was hankering.
There is a hideous disconnect between the civil rights we demand and the public face of ‘pride’. A parade of semi naked gyrating narcissists. How can anyone take that seriously? Pride simply reinforces the difference between me and them: I do not drink or take drugs. I am not driven (compelled) by my homosexuality.
The parade terrifies me. Aesthetically. The corporate floats lack ingenuity and wit. The rent boy/sex worker float lacks class. The thongs, the swagger, revealing the lie of Pride. The near identical bodies in various hues. Searching, begging for tiny differences between each naked, muscular physique that may determine the uniqueness, the individuality of just one of these men. Of course, I am excited to see so many out men. But they are all the same. I look at them and, as much as I want to be, I am not attracted to them. I am not attracted to their essence… to their remarkable lack of ego.
The Pride parade is a celebration of sexuality. First and foremost. And I, absurdly, want to fall in love. You see, I proved it. They wanted sex… and I didn’t. I wanted to fall in love… and they didn’t.
“I want to tell you how much I love you.” I whispered.
When I have sex. I tell them to say… I love you. It turns me on. “Even if you don’t mean it.” I was useless then and I am useless now to those gay men at those gay circuit parties because I didn’t want to have sex. I wanted to fall in love. I didn’t/couldn’t/wouldn’t and they knew it. They could see by the look in my eye that their sexuality terrified me, baffled me. I wanted to fall in love.
That man I loved. After he came out… he told me about the sex he was having with many, many men. He was really good at meeting strange men and having sex with them. His priorities shifted. When we were together and he was in the closet he told me he loved me, he was emotional… the moment he came out he threw his emotional interest in men away. In favour of sex. I wanted to fall in love.
It was my fault. I had this sex genius at my disposal and couldn’t work out how to use what he was brilliant at. When we made love I felt the same disconnect. Out of body. Away.
Pride is a tough word to have appended to any celebration because it means so many different things to so many different people. That’s why I love the LGBTQ Mardi Gras in Sydney, it doesn’t have PRIDE in the title. Mardi Gras is everything you want it to be because Mardi Gras mean nothing to me. Means everything to me.
Mardi Gras implies celebration. It doesn’t pretend to be anything it isn’t. Even though it eschews the word Pride, on the several occasions I attended… I felt really proud. Proud to be just like them. Just like you. I looked for the similarities and not the differences at: The silly Mardi Gras community events, the Mardi Gras parade, the film festival, the theatre festival, the LGBTQ city art tours… even the leather cruise… something I would never usually do seemed fun and interesting.
It was a gathering of the LGBTQ clan and made no mistake by calling itself something it isn’t. The parade and the party. Mardi Gras was so different from London Pride. London Pride in the 1980’s, was a sombre affair. Men and women. Simply being seen. It was originally held during the miserable months of the British year. Overcast skies. Rain.
London Pride has evolved from a bunch of angry gays and lesbians marching through Westminster (Margaret Thatcher’s back yard) denouncing the infamously homophobic Section 28 to right now and a profoundly different landscape for the LGBTQ community. We have enthusiastically embraced the Blair (credit where credit’s due) government’s equality overhaul and the introduction of legal parity for all citizens of the UK regardless of gender.
London Pride is a deserved celebration… but it was earned. It’s not my cup of tea. But it was earned. If it isn’t your cup of tea… what is? What does this old queer want?
Somewhere between the seriousness of a civil rights march and the celebration of Mardi Gras there is a parade I want to attend. There’s a parade I want to join where all men and women are respected and nurtured regardless of age, sexuality and religion. Let me know if you find that Parade because I’ll be there… to hold your hand.