An interesting thing, pride. We all talk about gay pride. But what does it really mean to everyone? Where is it derived from? Oasis' Portable Pride section shows a little about the origins of gay pride, but that's still not quite it. Since I'm writing this in June, and the Chicago Pride Parade is this Sunday, I figure that it's a fitting time for me to write a column devoted to pride, and what it means to me. So read on.
I guess it would be simplest to begin with the things that make me feel better about being gay -- my own Portable Prides. Musically, my pride is derived from one source. Tori Amos taught me to be myself and gave me a crutch for when life is hard. She may not know being gay, but she knows loneliness and sorrow, which a lot of gay teenagers feel. I commiserate with her when my crush just isn't responding to what I'm giving out. I celebrate with her when I have a rare moment of contentment. She has been a major catalyst in believing in myself -- however limited that belief may be right now, believe me when I say that it was less in the past.
Literature-wise, my Portable Pride stems from a recent addition to my life; the Tales of the City series by Armistead Maupin. I mean, they're famous, so I had to get around to reading them anyway. But I was inspired to read them because of Showtime's broadcast of More Tales of the City. And they are wonderful. They show me the ups and downs of gay life through the eyes of characters who are all different aspects of my own personality. Mary Ann, the shy Clevelander. Michael, the playful gay man. Brian, who can't seem to get control over his lust. And wise old Mrs. Madrigal who is not quite what she seems. <winking knowingly at everyone who has read the books> The books always end on a note of hope.
Cinematically, my pride draws from a few sources. The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert frees me from the constraints of reality, because except for one minor gay-bashing scene, everyone is happy and free. Jeffrey was the catalyst to my outing --- seeing these wonderful gay men living the life they wanted to live (except Jeffrey) and being happy (except Jeffrey) made me want to be just the same. The Celluloid Closet showed me, visually, the progress gay people have made in being accepted by society.
But my pride runs deeper than these works, written by other people. I find pride in myself based on what I am. I'm delighted that I'm attracted to guys. I'm delighted that I allow myself to be attracted to guys. I love it. I love being gay. When I allow myself to be gay, and go with my soul instead of society, it's a high better than anything I can imagine. I feel better about myself, because I have the strength to go against the social mores that the assholes of the world decree, wrongly, must be.
However, to examine pride, one must also examine the antithesis of pride. Shame. Have I felt ashamed to be gay? Of course. Recently, on a very bad day, out of the blue, I felt really really awful about being gay. I just started hating it. I hated what my life has turned into as a result, and I hated myself for being so. Looking back, I figure that this was caused by my situation that day. I was lusting after a cute boy who was very very straight. These things still hurt and make me feel bad. But I know that one day I will realize that it's not my fault that some boys are straight. They simply don't know any better. But until that day, I'm just going to have to deal with my periods of self-loathing.
As for the future, I dream of love and support. I dream of being myself. I dream of dates and walks and sharing french fries with ranch dressing.
The very fact that I allow myself to dream of the future again shows my pride. I will not be withered by shame. Merely bruised.
And so I dream.
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