As Gay Pride Month continues worldwide, The Advocate has a timely piece examining what purpose these these celebrations serve. In this era, are parades just a chance for Showtime to market The L Word and protesters to throw around Biblical scripture? Or do they still represent the coming togetherness of a community that has fought for so long to be accepted by society?
For today’s youth (of which I include myself), it’s easy to forget that the floats down New York’s Fifth Avenue and Hollywood’s Santa Monica Boulevard are a very recent phenomenon. The furor over Moscow’s banning gay pride celebrations and Poland’s mixed acceptance only underscores the point that public displays of cultural identification are more than media spectacle: they’re integral to our brother and sisterhood. Leave it to a public relations maestro to fully grasp the notion. Writes Howard Bragman:
You can’t discuss the public implications of gay pride without understanding a historical perspective. Thirty years ago, when these celebrations were in their infancy, our community was invisible. I repeat, invisible. Mainstream news organizations did not cover our community; our civil rights struggles had no legitimacy; and if we were covered, it usually focused on negative or stereotypical images.
The gay pride parades were our moment. Our earliest pioneers stood in public and said, “I’m here, I’m queer, get used to it.” While that wasn’t the language they used, necessarily, it was certainly the spirit in which the parades were presented. […]
We have grown and matured as a community, and our parades now present a much more diverse cross section of our population. But at the beginning it was the few and the proud, and all of us should be deeply indebted to those who talked the talk and walked the walk. Without their efforts, we would not be where we are today.
The second point I need to make is that gay pride celebrations were not created for the media. They were created for us. They bring us together in droves, and they inspire a sense of community. No one can go to a gay pride parade and not be amazed at the numbers and the diversity of our people and not feel a sense of kinship and community.
Why pride matters [Advocate]