LGBT Pride Month has arrived just like clock work. All over the world literally millions are marching in small and large cities. The largest being San Paulo, Brazil with over four million attending. In large part, the events this month is a celebration of our cultural, the freedom to come out and to have a sense of community.
Always have been amazed by 'straights' who are appalled at the sexuality or nudity in our LGBT pride parades. Some have made our 'freedom' conditional by insisting that we must stop the pride parades and remove any hint of sexuality from our lives. Really? First, freedom is never conditional Second, they don't have to look. And finally, have they seen the straights behavior in New Orleans doing Mari Gras? They show each other their private parts for simply beads.
My first pride parade was on Hollywood Blvd. a few years after Stonewall. Still heavily in the closet I headed for the center of a large group of marchers hoping no one would see me. Nevertheless, I was astounded by the hundreds or thousands surrounding me. They held up signs proclaiming that they were scientists, teachers, cops and from every walk of life. I was in disbelief at such pride and openness.
Most pride parades have been more celebration of our lives and community than protest. However there were those years that events in our epic struggle for freedom overtook the celebration. The year of Anita Bryant brought tens of thousands of marchers into the streets across America refusing to keep quiet any longer. It was my first pride parade where I was 'out', 'proud' and certainly 'defiant'!
When Governor Pete Wilson vetoed the gay rights legislation in California there was the same kind of energy.
At the height of the AIDS epidemic, tens of thousands marched in horrible health and even in wheelchairs demanding equality as they fought the plague. I will never forget an entire family of a mother, father and three siblings taking turns in a pride parade pushing their son /brother with AIDS down Santa Monica Blvd. That image shall always stay with me.
Now times have changed.
The marchers are still energized than ever by our struggle for full equality. They still celebrate our culture.
However there are differences.
This year the LGBT community will march with members of the military in uniform. There will be a reception at the White House. The President of the United States has issued a Pride Proclamation. Openly Gay members of Congress, Mayors, a Senator, elected officials will taken their place of honor. Straight politicians who used to avoid the parades like the plague now seek honored placement in the line of march.
Also this year in New York City the LGBT community has to make a powerful and unmistakable statement about the dozen hate crimes in the Big Apple since the first of May. This is unacceptable and the pride parade is a moment to let the world know of our feelings about these brutal attacks.
In Chicago , hopefully they will march with new determination and pride in the face of the cowards in their State Legislature.
When they march in California this year they might just be able to march with a Supreme Court decision making it legal again to marry in the The Golden State.
Across the country, we all might be able to march with the evils of DOMA in the past because of the Supreme Court. Each of us will always be grateful for Edie Windsor.
So my friends, though much still needs to be done be sure to celebrate being a LGBT American, having a sexuality, our culture and our victories . Don't forget to show a little 'skin' just to irritate the hell out of our foes!
Happy LGBT Pride Month!