I’ve been thinking about pride parades and what they represent, and how I responded as a kid seeing clips of pride parades on TV, or when religious right figures railed against the imagined debauchery of it all. As a good child raised to be a foot soldier of the religious right, I was supposed to look at those pictures and video and see it as people parading their sins through the street as in Sodom.
But at the same time, because I was raised to be a foot soldier for the religious right, I may not have understood the political or philosophical arguments, but I did understand activism. And so I instinctively understood the message of defiance–and back in the ‘80s and ’90s it was definitely a message of defiance, that you may hate us but we won’t be ashamed.
It may have taken years after that for me to challenge what I’d been taught about the sinfulness of it all, and still longer to figure out that I myself was queer, but that image of defiance was still there with me as a counterpoint to what I was being taught. A counterpoint that I could understand and relate to, when arguments that the interpretation of scripture I was learning was wrong wouldn’t have stuck because I was too young and too dogmatic to see another side’s logical arguments. The logic looked to me as excuses but the defiance of marching in the streets, that found its way past my defenses precisely because I spoke the language of activism so well.
When I look at pride parades, I don’t see them as just an event for the community together, I see them as a message for the kids who aren’t there as well. That people may beat us down and revile us, but we’re still here and we’re going to carry on as if the world we live in is already the one we hope to see, so that someday the hope and the reality might merge as one. But that in the meantime we refuse to be ashamed.
Happy pride, and may the arc of history continue to bend towards justice.