Sunday, June 13, 2010


As a black American citizen who has benefited from all the hard work people accomplished in the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s, I have a vested interest in American ideals, our citizens’ rights and most of all; Equality.

If not for the Civil Rights Movement I would not be able to vote.

If not for the Civil Rights Movement, I would not have the education I have.

If not for the Civil Rights Movement, I would not be married to a person from another race.

And the list goes on.

This mindset is where I come from when I think about the issue of Gay Rights.

I have lived in New York, Los Angeles and even kind of lived in San Francisco for a minute [full disclosure, I was in SF about two weeks out of every month for quite a long while] – and because of that, I always think about Gay Pride at this time of year. I’ve been thinking about it a lot in the last couple of years because of Prop 8, and the way the Gay community responded nonviolently. Martin Luther King, Jr. made the contributions he did because nonviolent change was the cornerstone of his message.

What I’ve been thinking about today centers around two things regarding the Pride celebration. What does walking around in your underwear have to do with Pride? And this completely wild behavior – what does it advocate?

In case you don’t know, haven’t heard about it or seen it for yourself, people at Pride celebrations go Ca-razy. Sex, drugs, rock ‘n roll. And then they do it all over again. And then they do it again, for real. I mean, c’mon – the first one was just a rehearsal, right? People always mention that the way gay people act during Pride is exactly the way heterosexual America thinks gay people act every day of the year. C’mon son, now we know that’s not true! We all know there are too many gay people in this world for us to have a functioning society if that were the case.

But it does make me wonder, why should gay people have to be on their “Best Behaviour” during Pride? For some reason, I’m reminded of black people telling other black people not to eat watermelon in public. No one tells people to behave themselves at Mardi Gras, or Carnivale, right?! Why not? Because everyone accepts that those are isolated events where people act that way, they don’t assume those people are like that all year long. I’m all for telling everyone to be safe, and that is important. But telling people to “watch themselves” just seems to be the opposite of what it means to be “proud.”

Gay people still feel oppressed and clearly feel a need to LET GO. And for people who grew up feeling like a freak, being with 100,000 people who are similar to themselves is reason enough to throw down! But that’s just my observation, combined with my opinions of events of the past. I mean back in the day, black people were definitely told to “act right,” because we were proving that we belonged in society – that’s also why we were nonviolent. But gay people being “flamboyant” is not only nonviolent, it’s downright loving.

The first time I ever saw a Gay Pride Parade, I was on vacation with my family in Montreal when I was 14. Now, I’ll admit – that parade was a lot to take for a 14 year-old from the South. And the men walking around in public in tiny underwear thing was especially strange to me. Most of all, it was intimidating. We were trying to get back to our hotel, and everywhere we turned there were hundreds of people; topless women in leather, men in their underwear and they were all chanting “We’re Here! We’re Queer! Get used to it!” It was a lot to handle. By the time I moved to New York City, I had gotten used to the progressive dress code and simply accepted it.

Many gay people continually talk about the underwear thing with disdain. I always forget that even if these people are gay and moved to New York City by the time they were twenty years old, it’s very different from anyone seeing it as a student in Junior High School. I was young enough for that to be part of my childhood, but once you’re twenty – you’ve already solidified some ideas and ideals.

First of all, and to be fair, we have to talk about the phenomenon of people turning themselves into sex objects. Most of the year, people work their jobs, go to the gym, see movies, visit their family and go on vacation. And then when Pride comes along: RELEASE! I think these gay people not only want to feel attractive and sexy, but they also have a healthy need for that attention, love and expression of sexuality as well.

And there’s nothing wrong with that.

Being a sex object it so looked down upon in our society, that most wouldn’t dare do it without an excuse. Just like Halloween – that is the reason every costume you see is either the slutty or sexy version of a costume idea. And why is there nothing wrong with that? Because: people who need that release don’t allow themselves that freedom in their everyday lives. And everyone, no matter who they are, deserves Freedom.

I’m reminded of a conversation I recently had with a female friend. She was understandably frustrated with the idea that there is no word in our society for a male slut. Slut is a word used to describe a promiscuous woman, and the sexism of it all rightly pissed her off. I told her that we do have a word for a male slut. We call male sluts “Men!” She laughed so hard she spit out her coffee. Really.

But back to the main event [and I think this is the heart of the entire matter]. So many gay people grew up feeling like a freak even before they knew anything about their sexuality. And once they got an inkling that they may be homosexual, their feelings of oppression were multiplied and were confirmed by society. We all know Gay people are oppressed, that’s a fact not an opinion. So when these people, who have felt like an outcast their entire time on this planet, finally liberate themselves – they feel AMAZING. Free. Complete.

And after spending your life in the dark, once you’ve finally given yourself light… You finally feel so proud that walking around in your underwear is an expression of your FREEDOM. You can’t truly oppress a soul that’s liberated itself.

That’s PRIDE.

[©MMX MD TOTAL all rights reserved.]


vrobCOName said...

you have given me a deeper understanding of the things I see at a pride festival. As a straight black man I want to thank you for that and for helping to alleviate some of my misplace bigotry. GREAT post, keep writing

R said...

: )

Equality is not just "freedom to" - it's "freedom from."

Legend Rivera said...

The idea of "release" from oppression, monotony, repressive sexuality, etc... is understood and completely appropriate within a certain context.

That context is not gawdy floats displaying half-dressed men blocking traffic in broad daylight that are funded by and advertise alchohol companies and pornography studios.

Not the way you should be trying to call for advocacy of real issues like equal marriage, housing rights and employment. Who would want to respect (and vote to preserve the rights of) fashion-deviant drunken whores?