So, yeah, the concept of Pride is at once contradictory. It's both an ultimate sin and a triumph of the spirit. Here's me at a gay pride parade in Boston, circa 1991:
But maybe he did like me a little. I notice right now that the image on his shirt bears a remarkable resemblance to my family crest. What if all that time he had subconsciously held a torch for me and hadn't realized it? Yes, life gets weirder and weirder! I wonder what Matt is up to today.
But back to Pride. Around the mid 90's, corporations started wising up, realizing there were a lot of gay people on the planet and they were just as voracious of consumers as straight people. "Gay dollars are just as green" was a phrase I recall hearing at the time. And then this started happening:
I think "Pride" is the wrong word for the Gay Liberation Movement. I mean, what's there to be proud of if you're gay? You're born that way. It just is. It makes about as much sense as Straight Pride. Or Mineral Pride. Or Vegetable Pride.
I think what the Gay Liberation Movement is really about; has always been about; is acceptance. It's about getting the prejudiced world at large to accept us, yes. But more importantly it's about accepting ourselves. Growing up gay in the 1970's was tough. Being queer, a sissy, a mama's boy, a pansy, a faggot; anything else you wanted to call it... It was simply one of the worst things in the world you could be. The shame that engendered I still deal with. I'm still, in a way, accepting myself. However, Gay Acceptance Month doesn't have the same ring. So, I'll guess I'll have to live with Gay Pride.
Ever hear of Paul Cadmus? He was a painter known for his provocative scenes of carousing, sensuous (and somewhat grotesque) men and women:
In 2019 I happened to be in NYC for the weekend. I wasn't even thinking that it was the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots. So it was kind of startling to see that the entire city was decked out in rainbow colors. Macy's even had a rainbow tunnel. I have a picture of me in it somewhere; but this stock photo will have to do for now:
Here's a couple more Cadmus paintings. It seems he too had a type. Just like Matt's. :(
The last time I was at a gay pride event was the West Hollywood event circa 1999. I went with my new boyfriend at the time (I'm now married to him). I remember I wore cut-off denim shorts (again) dyed purple; which were actually rather demure by WeHo standards. That event had a cover charge. Something seemed fundamentally wrong to me about charging an admittance fee to a gay pride event. And less than a decade after the '91 experience; the whole undertaking was about selling shit. Not just a lifestyle; but goods. It was now a more commercial undertaking than political (not that I'm particularly political). That's not to say that I'll never go to another gay pride event. We still need them. As far as we've come and accepted as we've become; there are still those that would like to take it all away from us. We can't forget that. And even if gay pride events nowadays are more about the corporate hard sell, it's still a great thing that we can have them without even really thinking about what they were for in the first place.
Take the win Chris, take the win.