Comment: Pride seems to be the same all over the world

Scott Schmidt June 25, 2008
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This week marks the 39th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, which will be celebrated with parades and festivals in Paris, Toronto, New York, Chicago and San Francisco.

And although I have probably been to as many Gay Prides in the last year as Fred Phelps, I won’t be going to any of them this weekend.

Somewhere about the time that the Abbey float passed the corner of Santa Monica and Westbourne, I turned to my friends and declared, “I am prouded out.”

Despite that diversity within the rainbow of our gay and lesbian community, it has shocked me that the colours of that rainbow are basically the same wherever you go.

Is it just me or has the gay diaspora become monochromatic?

Since last June, I have ridden in the West Hollywood Christopher Street West Pride Parade, attended the festivities in Copenhagen, marched with Hillary Clinton supporters in Puerto Rico and cheered on the gays from the Boston Common.

What I realised over the course of my Pride-a-palooza was just how common the events seemed.

Nearly the only thing that seemed to vary were the venues, and the weather.

In almost every gay pride parade, the siren call of Pride’s kick-off is the thundering of Harley Davidsons, cascading down the street as the Dykes on Bykes take their place at the front of the march.

Universally, the loudest applause from the assembled crowd is reserved for the Parents and Friends of Lesbian and Gays—and deservedly so!

But least four times in each parade, you will hear the songs, I Am Who I Am, It’s Raining Men, We Are Family, I’m Coming Out and Dancing Queen.

While I adore Abba and have a special place in my heart for Miss Ross, doesn’t it seem a bit tired that we’re playing the same songs in 2008 as we did in 1981?

Wherever you go in the world, the gay community seems to break itself out into clichés and self-segregate into various groups.

Not just gay or lesbian, but Levi’s and leather, dancing queens and drag queens, hustlers and Johns, cougars and wolves and bears and twinks, oh my!

And oh my, they seem to be the same people in just about every Gay Pride parade in the world!

I guess you can say that we have a unique, and global, gay culture, but to what end?

Of course, every pride has its own personality.

Some, like Los Angeles’ Christopher Street West, stay in the “gaybourhood” and celebrate two of gay culture’s defining traits: alcoholism and commercialism.

In Toronto, they seem to welcome any minority’s cause—including a contingent in 2002 calling to Free Palestine, despite the obvious fact that gays would have fewer rights under Sharia law than they do as Palestinians living in Israel.

San Juan Pride in 2008 was “dry” since the parade fell on election day, when all bars and liquor stores on the island were closed down.

In San Francisco, the Parade goes right down Market Street, cutting a rainbow-coloured cloth through the heart of the City.

Now that’s the place to declare that you’re out and you’re proud!

As the globe grows smaller as a result of free trade, free travel, and the powers of the internet, gay culture across the planet seems to start looking the same wherever you go.

To a degree, it is something to be proud of, but we should also take pride in our own uniqueness!

So here’s a chance and a challenge to the gay community — how is your local gay pride different and why should people come?

© 2008; All Rights Reserved.

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