Sunday, June 5, 2011

Pride Festival

Pride Festivals are the worst idea ever for promoting tolerance and acceptance of LGBT people. When I worked in Seattle my office was in the department of Public Health that dealt with AIDS, and there was always activity around PRIDE week. I saw all the photos - trust me. Do you honestly think straight people seeing gays dance around half naked, acting lewdly, mocking religion, and otherwise being distasteful helps IN ANY WAY to engender respect, sympathy, or a desire to bestow equal status to homosexuals? Does a straight person seeing a gay man dressed in nothing but condoms make them comfortable with the idea of gays adopting children? Or teaching their children in elementary school? Or being their next door neighbor?


Gay Pride does nothing more than broaden the gulf that exists between straights and gays and justifies the very fears and prejudices gays want to see dispelled. I would never go to one - ever. Its the worst thing the LGBT community has ever dreamed up.

22 comments:

INSIDE said...

I have to agree.

AKgayN.LDS said...

Pretty say isn't it.

Kim Nordyke said...

I agree. The other day I passed a store front here in Salt Lake City that was rather offensive with a rainbow flag displayed behind it. What went through my mind was, "I'm supposed to be proud of this?" I'm not. What I am proud of has nothing to do with the lewdness you describe that I know is at the festivities as well. We need to start our own kind of "clean" pride parade or something. ;)

Andy said...

I'm glad I'm not the only one who feels like this. I'm not opposed to celebrating diversity. However I think it can be done in a much more positive way. Nothing like perpetuating stereotypes.

MY VIEW said...

I have to agree, I think that the gay community does themselves a great disservice by helping keep negative sterotypes alive. Honestly, while I know there may be some good outreach things going on, its like having to swim through shark infested water to find it. I don't think God would ever want us to put ourselves in that situation to find good. On the flipside I guess we should thank these people because honestly when compared to the stuff that goes on there the rest of us look pretty normal. I just don't get the point of celebrating something that if I act on would kill the Spirit and affend God. I know these people have their agency and all that but this isn't something I want to have pride in. I don't think I'm a bad person because I have these feelings, but I choose not to act on them. I'd rather God be proud of me and my actions then to celebrate that I can be disobident if I want to.

Jenz said...

I think the point is to be proud of yourself, and express that in any way you want and in public. It's not about bridging anything between the gay and straight communities. Because, honestly, we don't care what the straight communities think of us anymore. You may not be proud of what you perceive as lewd behavior or whatever it is you think goes on, but who are you to judge them. Stay away...doesn't sound like you would have much fun anyway.

Neal said...

Jenz,

Your attitude is what's wrong with the gay community right now...

Pablo said...

I happened across this post because some of my friends follow this blog. Here are some thoughts I had:

When I see straight people at a public protest opposed to gay rights, I don't automatically assume that all straight people are opposed to gay rights. Why would reasonably-minded straight people assume that because a few gay people engage in behavior some could view as "distasteful," they would automatically assume gay people shouldn't be allowed to adopt kids or teach kids in school, or not be discriminated against in the workplace, etc.? I give straight people more credit than that.

Besides, the "debate" over whether gay people can adopt kids or teach kids in school has been settled long ago in most civilized areas of the United States.

Also, judging Gay Pride events based on a few pictures, a local news story, or anything besides actually attending the event is a bit like judging all of Mormonism based on a talk by Boyd K. Packer and the fallout it causes.

Neal said...

Pablo,

I think it perpetuates stereotypes. I think it reinforces the fears many straights already have about gays - some of which I mentioned. Many don't understand who we are and what we're like. If I'm going to do anything to publicly demonstrate what gay people are all about, it certainly won't be something that portrays gays negatively or in poor taste. I don't have to attend a Pride parade to get a sense of that. The videos are on the internet for all to see.

Pablo said...

Is there no part of Pride that is positive in your view? What about going to a PFLAG booth or something like that? I'm not trying to be be facetious here. I'm honestly asking whether you see value in any of the wide variety of Pride events.

Of course some Pride events perpetuate stereotypes about gay people. So what? There are things about General Conference that perpetuate negative stereotypes about Mormons too. But there are plenty of people who continue to attend General Conference. If "outsider" fear is the thing that defines how we interact with each other as human beings, that is a sad state of affairs.

Gay people, just like any other people are not (nor should they be) a monolithic entity. Different people live differently. Most reasonable straight people don't form all of their opinions about gay people based on the more outlandish things one might see in part of a Pride parade.

I understand that you personally dislike the idea of Pride events. As you said, that's a matter of taste. That's perfectly legitimate. But I can't understand and see no credible support for your blanket condemnation of Pride as "the worst idea ever for promoting tolerance and acceptance of LGBT people...[and] the worst thing the LGBT community has ever dreamed up."

Evan said...

I strongly disagree.
And I will say that three years ago, I would have agreed to this post.

Maybe Texans just do it better, but after actually going to one, my judgments concerning pride changed to be more positive. I would suggest you go with a gay or gay friendly family member and friend and do the same.

And Pride must be doing some good for the LGBT community... why would politicians(from both parties here), local celebrities, city leaders, and prominent businesses associate themselves with pride if those events had such a negative image to the public.

Yes you might run into drunks. Yes you may run into shirtless men here and there. Yes you may see some drag queens. But I think you will also be surprised by the amount of support out there for the gay community. I think you will also be surprised by the amount of healthy gay friendly organizations, clubs, and churches there are, too.

And I don't know if its quite fair to make assumptions of pride based on some videos you have seen on youtube. Would you tell your friends to go learn about Mormons by looking at videos on youtube? No, because then they would find themselves watching God Makers and Orgazmo.

Neal said...

Pablo,

I live in the South - arch conservatism, Bible Belt, etc. Trust me when I tell you that gays behaving lewdly at Pride gives us a black eye. Tell me how walking in a parade dressed in nothing but condoms sends a positive message? How is that "family friendly"? Its fodder for sermons and anti-gay rhetoric for months on end. I have to live surrounded by that hate all the time (even in my own family), so it bothers me when I see things that reinforce negative images of gays, rather than build them up - especially from the gay community itself! Talk about shooting yourself in the foot!

I don't think Pride parades are helpful, but you can go if you like. They definitely don't represent what I am or what I believe, so I will not be attending.

Neal said...

Evan

Thanks for your thoughts, but we obviously disagree about the merits of Pride. I'm sure some events are more "wholesome" than others, but the whole concept strikes the wrong chord with me.

Pablo said...

Using the fact that some gay people "behave badly" during Pride events (which include more than lewdness, pardon the repetition) as fodder for sermons and ant-gay rhetoric is like using the fact that a whole lot of straight people "behave badly" at Mardi Gras every year to condemn straight people for being straight. The biggest U.S. Mardi Gras event is in New Orleans, but similar events are held across the country, including throughout the South. Mardi Gras is definitely not a tame event, and has a completely different purpose than Pride. But it, like Pride, isn't all about lewdness, lasciviousness, etc.

Pride has all sorts of positive messages. There are community centers, choirs, churches, organizations like PFLAG, Gay-Straight Alliance, the It Gets Better campaign, churches, business groups, etc. (See Evan's comment above).

Dressing in condoms is crude for some people, lighthearted for others. If the entire event has to pass a "family friendly" litmus test for people to accept its obviously positive aspects, that says more about the perception than it does the event. I'm not saying that makes it any easier to deal with people willing to focus on any negative element in order to justify their fear, hate and willful ignorance. I am saying that there are more things at Pride that build up gay people than tear us down. But we may have to simply disagree on that point.

As for the "black eye"... That requires someone to throw the punch. So, my question is, Who is really accountable for the black eye?

I'm not asking you to agree with every aspect of Pride. However, it is an overstatement to say that [Pride is] "the worst idea ever for promoting tolerance and acceptance of LGBT people...[and] the worst thing the LGBT community has ever dreamed up."

Neal said...

Pablo,

We'll just have to agree to disagree.

Pablo said...

Neal,

I appreciate your willingness to let me post my thoughts on your blog.

Neal said...

Inside, AKgay, Kim, Andy, My View - thanks for your respnses. Kim - I like your idea of a "clean" Pride parade. :)

Rob said...

My two' cents worth:

Pride has different purposes for different people. They tend to approach it from their own perspectives. Neal, you are a conservative guy so anything that pushes envelopes or is wildly in your face about stuff you dislike, you will seriously dislike in turn. Hence your post.

But Pablo's right too. What you think is risque is for others just having fun. The difference is your attitudes and perspectives on a given activity.

Naturally, you'll see some of the more outlandish Pride participants as reinforcing "unfortunate" stereotypes. Pablo and others will see them as harmless fun.

I think though that you're forgetting something Neal. The condom-wearing Lady Gaga-wannabe's are also dressing "provocatively" for a more serious purpose. They really are trying to tell lots of conservatives in the Bible Belt that they (the conservatives) can no longer assume the right to enforce their own versions of behavior on everyone else, and particularly their homophobia. It's a sassy, in-your-face "we're not gonna take your oppression and discrimination anymore" kind of thing. In that sense, people who hate Pride for the reasons you've stated really have no one but themselves to blame, because if they hadn't perpetuated all that shame and discrimination for decades, there'd be nothing for the marching gay guys to react to. Every action generates and equal and opposite reaction, remember.

If the only purpose of Pride were to drum up broad-based support for the gay community, then I could understand saying that the prancing drag queens are counterproductive. And I've thought that myself. On the other hand, Pride parades no matter how constituted are probably not going to convince any die-hard conservative homophobes to be tolerant even if the marchers were nothing but blue-suited IBM salesmen. Because the homophobes' argument is not with who happens to be gay, it's with being gay itself. And changing hearts and minds from that attitude is gonna take a lot more than a bunch of people marching down a street.

So on balance, I think Pride is more for the benefit of the participants and their supporters. Personally I find some of the aggressive sexuality somewhat over the top for my taste too. But I just shrug, say "their choice," and go find other participants I fit in with better.

INSIDE said...

Im sorry Rob but thats a horrible deflection of self responsibility for the gay community.

Many say to the Tea Party (not to make this a political debate but the analogy applies), "You have a few racist people among the ranks, and therefore all your views are invalid and your group is a joke." I however would doubt any would apply your same point from the gay pride events too those of the tea party. In contrast from the gay community, there are many in the tea party who fight the racist minority as "not part of the group". I however don't see that being battled in the Pride events, in fact I see the "fringe" being celebrated and honored.

To say the radical elements of the gay pride events is in retaliation of the "shame and discrimination" is horribly misplaced. Its used to gain attention and to have fun. Trust me I know quite a few friends who enjoy drag and they have never ever mentioned doing so to combate anyone, but just to let loose, have fun, and see what kind of attention they can get.

Also your definition of a conservative, "a conservative guy so anything that pushes envelopes or is wildly in your face about stuff you dislike you will seriously dislike in turn" Is a pretty close and small minded definition.

Neal said...

Rob,

If you're saying the raucus side of Gay Pride is "payback" for discrimination against gays then you have more than justified my point. That's not the way to win friends and influence people. I look at the approach of MLK and the Civil Rights Movement and I see a stark contrast in the dignity and professionalism they used when "making their statement" and the approach the gay community is taking. This is BAD marketing, at the least.

Rob said...

Hold on, both of you. Stop jumping to conclusions. One of you thinks you’re proven right that Pride is an entirely bad idea because I theorized that the “fringe” elements of Pride is “payback” for past discrimination. The other one says that theory is “horribly misplaced” and takes too seriously the “fringe” elements of Pride, which are intended only in fun.

In short, if Inside is right then Neal is completely wrong, and vice-versa. You guys shouldn’t be arguing with me, you should be going after each other. All I did was suggest a possible reason for one part of Pride, a middle ground. Seems neither of you like it and are intent on defending the extremes.

Inside, I don’t accept the analogy to the Tea Party. They are an extreme fringe group and I believe will ultimately prove as historically consequential as the Dixiecrats. And you need to read more carefully; I didn’t define conservatism overall. I made an observation about Neal based on what he’d written. If you think it’s wrong, then you should show me why, based on other stuff he’s written. But just launching an undefended accusation like that is not exactly mature debate. A word to the wise.

Neal, I gave you a theory about how one sub-group of Pride participants may intend. I wouldn’t bet the farm on it myself either. It’s just a possibility. It makes some sense to me, historically and based on my own observations. If it’s wrong, no big deal. But that would “prove your point” only if Pride is only what you assume: an effort to persuade otherwise hostile opponents to change their minds. I’m not sure it is, or at least not mainly. I think it’s more for the participants themselves to celebrate who and what they are and demonstrate publicly that they’re not going to live with the shame and silence that has been so relentlessly forced on them in the past by the people you think they’re trying to persuade. From that perspective, can you see why it’s less an effort to persuade and more of a “we’re here, we’re queer, get used to it” thing? And if that’s bad marketing, so be it. Like I said, those who are really hostile to it won’t be persuaded by a parade, no matter who marches in it.

Neal said...

OK, this has gone far enough. This dead horse has been flogged, but I'm going to have the final word...

No matter what the intentions of the participants, Pride is being held in a public venue - probably the most public venue of all - a parade through the middle of town! When you choose that venue you're inviting the world to look at what you do, and you're also proclaiming to the world who and what you are. If Pride organizers allow the raucus and unseemly to participate, then they are condoning that message to go out to the world, and I don't agree with that message. The attitude seems to be, and Rob and Jenz seem to confirm it - SCREW YOU, STRAIGHT PEOPLE! I also saw this same sorry attitude when Prop8 was voted on and gays spray-painted Temples, burned churches and behaved like animals in protest. That's a pathetic, shameful way to make a statement, and no one should take PRIDE in that kind of behavior. Ever.