I graduated from UCSC on gay pride weekend 1995. So I was missing the festivities in SF in favor of a family weekend that included my grandmother and grandfather, my divorced parents, my sister and her then BF and my Uncle. It was really a wonderful day. We headed down to Carmel for lunch in two cars. I commented that Santa Cruz was so quiet and traffic was light because everyone was headed the opposite direction that weekend for the pride parade. My grandmother, whom I love(d) dearly, chimed in that pride was a terrible way to change minds and all the extremists were out, and ‘I don’t think of you like that’ etc.
My blood wasn’t boiling but by then, after a degree from UCSC in American Studies with an emphasis on gender (primarily in men’s studies and as a lesbian I took some liberal heat for that) I was pretty well versed and armed in a way I never had been before. I said,” But I am like THAT. The problem is you think this day is to change your minds, it’s not, you think that this concerns straight people in any way and it doesn’t. It’s the day we forget you exist, where we marvel at our numbers, where we come out in all our glory, in all our brocade and celebrate the moment we pushed back hard and know we will continue to do so. This day gives us strength for the other 364 days of the year where we have to deal with stupid crap. It’s our day, and the one day where we actually are taking a break from changing your minds.”
It was an important moment for me, I had been listening to those kind of comments for years from my father and grandmother, who were largely supportive, but still bigoted. Only we who have lived this can understand how important pride is and what it has meant to us. I feel truly sorry for gays, who couldn’t get over that hump and instead were part of the chorus of ‘it’s just a bunch of freaks’ instead of joining the rest of us in solidarity.
Happy Pride Month to US!