Pride Day is a lot like watching Channing Tatum emote in The Vow – not everyone’s cup of tea.
I caught The Vow in a theater recently and as the torturous film played on, I thought to myself, “No one’s actually enjoying this thing, right?”
But the rest of the audience was practically glued to the screen. Who were these people? Sensitive suckers? Emotional sheep responding to story cues so old, even Cro-Magnon man would find it hard not to say, “Really? This again?”
Not really. The rest of the audience simply gave themselves over to the experience, permitting themselves to feel empathy for the struggles and victories of the characters.
Believe it or not, my reaction to The Vow is quite similar to what many people experience with Pride Day. And year after year, I hear an array of grievances, protests or complaints about a day that a lot of people view as a joyous celebration. I’ll attempt to break down the most common gripes heard around the proverbial campfire.
(Corporate Sellout) Pride
For some who experienced Pride in the seventies and eighties, what used to be an anthem of proud defiance to a society that branded the GLBT community as deviants has morphed into an unabashed and unrestrained marketing opportunity for the next energy drink or alcoholic beverage (or even a refreshing mix of the two).
They may have a point.
I randomly visited the official Pride websites of five U.S. cities; New York, Atlanta, Denver, San Francisco and Seattle. And here’s a small sampling of the sponsors for all of these fests: Coca-Cola, Comcast, Delta, Hyatt, Frito Lay, Nationwide Insurance, Skyy Vodka, Macy’s, Target, Verizon, AT&T, Gold’s Gym, W. Hotel, Best Buy, and Coors.
Why are these fests attracting a veritable who’s who of corporate America? The answer may be found on the sponsor page of the Denver PrideFest website.
“Market research shows that 87% of the guests who attend PrideFest have switched brands to support companies who market directly to the GLBT community. Denver’s percentage of gay and lesbian households ranks as the seventh largest in the nation, and 83% of PrideFest attendees report incomes above the national average of $40,000 a year.”
I imagine that for folks nostalgic for the rebelliousness Pride Day used to embody, there might have been a wee bit of umbrage when that once-powerful chant, “We’re here! We’re queer! Get used to it!” somehow mutated to, “We’re here! We’re queer! And we’re sponsored by Walgreens!”
Approaching Pride Day resentment from an opposite place are the folks I refer to as the “Normalers”, gays and lesbians vigorously campaigning to convince straight people, and straight voters in particular, that we are as “Normal” as they are.
For Normalers, ever so mindful of the Pride Day images TV news stations like to broadcast, the event has always felt more like a strong current they’ve had to swim against.
“We spend all year convincing straight people that we are just like everyone else,” they say. “And all of that work is instantly undone by the sight of a man walking another man on a leash.”
That’s to say nothing of the bare-breasted, motorcycle riding lesbians, G-sting clad Go-Go Boys dancers or that adorable walking penis warning us of the dangers of syphilis.
For some of the Normalers whose effemiphobia goes nuts at the sight of a single drag queen, certainly the shock of seeing a whole street full of queens sends them into a level of crazy only rivaled by Lady Gaga’s stylist.
While some of Normalers I’ve met are gay conservatives of the Log Cabin or even GOProud stripe, most of the people I hear from don’t fit easily into that category.
But what they share is a desire for a Pride that looks and feels almost like a Disney parade, where there isn’t even a hint of sexuality or gender non-conformity. In other words, a parade even Mitt Romney couldn’t find much to object about.
“I don’t go to right-handed pride. Why should I go to gay pride?”
Oh, how precious is all this gonna get?
I can’t tell if this is some Post Gay precociousness, Hipsters that are just too cool to dig anything the Mainstreamers dig or some mix of all of the above.
But the No-Big-Dealers firmly reject the idea there’s anything particularly important about one’s sexual orientation and certainly don’t see why there has be an entire parade devoted to the matter.
When they came out at age twelve, the people in their lives greeted their announcement with kind of colossal shrug usually reserved for American Idol winners.
Nothing wrong with that. This is the way things should be.
For some No-Big-Dealers, who didn’t have to seek out community to feel acceptance, the sea of gayness can be a little daunting. I’m paraphrasing here, but a friend of mine who relates to the premise of Post Gay (even as he find the term as knotty as I do) put it this way.
“Gay Pride just makes me feel so freaking gay. Like ubergay.”
Then he added, “Besides, Sunday is my laundry day.”
Still, other No-Big-Dealers seem to have a psychotic need to remind anyone within earshot, ad nauseam infinitum, just how “over” Pride they are. It’s the meatspace version of a Troll who goes to websites devoted to things he doesn’t like, and then won’t shut up about why he doesn’t like them.
We get it. Good for you. Now unplug from the Matrix, Neo.
Next page… Missing the Pride forest through the trees.