Proud of being gay
June 27, 2012 | 11:00 am
(Updated: February 22, 2013 | 3:46 pm)
I know the phrase “gay Pride,” but I don’t think that I’ve ever felt it. I’m comfortable with being gay, but why be ‘proud’ of it? I’m not a fan of gay bars or people who wear their sexuality on their sleeve. I’ve never been to a Pride parade, but it seems like it is just a bunch of people getting attention on the news for being obscene. I’m a normal-acting man who just happens to be attracted to men. Are there other people out there like me?
The short answer is yes, but I think your question goes deeper. Gotta love how the media often portrays gay people: We have sex scandals involving married men and drugs. We get dressed up in sparkle-covered hot-shorts and make out with each other in front of cameras. We’re accused of pedophilia and perversion. I’m not surprised that you question why there’s a sense of pride about being gay.
Many of us struggled throughout our lives to understand why we are attracted to the same sex, resolve how to present ourselves publicly and overcome rejection or hurt because of who we are or love. Sometimes this personal strife evokes shame about the parts of us that cause difficulty – we might even feel like rejecting those things completely, hence choosing not take part in “gay” activities or go to “gay” places.
But in our culture, sexuality is considered a strong defining trait, embraced or rejected by others. Being gay triggers shared experiences, and unity with others who share them make us feel less unusual. Feeling like you’re not part of the “gay crowd” may just be that you haven’t found the right group of gay men. There is also a possibility that you have a rigid idea of what it is like to be gay and convinced yourself that there is not a place for you that would not be stereotypical and over-the-top.
Consider why you feel you already know all there is to know about being gay. There is diversity out there – so many different things that make up gay culture. Though it can include bars and pride parades, there’s more. We share a history of challenges and successes.
I love the idea of gay Pride and public events where queer people and straight allies come together to show support for each other – while bringing awareness to concerns about equality and acceptance.
I’m grateful that part of gay culture that includes cocktails, parties, and lots of fun. I am also grateful that it is so much more. I enjoy public events in which diversity and solidarity are the main themes. Watching people who care about each other and are focused on social change makes me feel supported and powerful.
You don’t have to parade down the street covered in rainbow paraphernalia from head to toe to show Pride. But hopefully you can look in the mirror or into the eyes of a guy you really like, and feel proud to be who you are.
Brent Heinze, LPC, is a licensed professional counselor. Send questions and comments to PerspectiveShift@yahoo.com