By: Richard Nenoff, Guest Writer
For those who don’t know, June is GLBT (that’s gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender) Pride month. That’s right, we get a whole month to revel in our second-class citizenship “aberrant lifestyles” and celebrate our victories in the fight for equal rights plan out the next stage in our bid for world domination via our Gay Agenda.
We’ve made some great strides toward equality in the past year, from the September repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell to the much more recent May 31 finding by the federal court that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional. In case you’re unclear, that basically means it’s on shaky ground and is being shipped off to the Supreme Court, where it stands a chance of being repealed as well (the current makeup of the Supreme Court not withstanding). And while we still have a long way to go beyond marriage equality, it’s finally starting to feel like we’re getting over that final big hurdle and there’s just a few laps between us and true equality full conversion of all heterosexuals into unnatural lifestyle choices. But all joking aside, we’re living in a time of great change. I’m actually starting to believe that I might see the day when I can marry the man I choose and not need to spend $10,000 in various legal fees in order to ensure he’s protected in the event of my death ($10,000 heterosexual couples save when they say, “I do,” by the way). So why does one question keep bothering me: what next?
After the dust has settled on the arguments and the legislation, after we’re done calling it “gay marriage” and simply call it what it is: marriage (seriously, I didn’t “gay write” this opinion piece, nor did I “gay e-mail” it to my editor); when equality has been achieved and there’s nothing left to fight for, what happens? For so long the GLBT community has existed as the “other” in society. Hell, we were founded on it. We were recognized and rejected for being different, and so we found each other and built a community on that difference. We didn’t want or choose to be different, we were condemned by a society that labeled us as such, and so we did the only thing that we could: we took that label and turned it around. We took pride in being the other. We celebrated it, reveled in it. So, what are we when we’re suddenly stripped of it? When society finally accepts the other, what does it become?
Sociological debate aside, a friend recently pointed this out to me. Once we’re accepted, will there be such a thing as a “gay bar” anymore or, like “gay marriage,” will they simply be called bars? He kind of has a point. Gay bars started as havens from a disapproving society that would sooner kill us or lock us up for being deviants than look at us. It’s hard to find people who support the holocaust, but if you polled people in the 1940s on their thoughts about homosexuality, you’d probably find disturbingly similar sentiments to those of Hitler, he just took it a step further. Hell, you can find those sentiments alive and well today on the internet, just look at some of the responses to articles posted on CNN.com.
So, without the need for a haven, does the need still exist for gay bars? The same could be argued of gay bookstores, and look how many of those remain today. Sure, you can argue that gay bookstores are dying out as a result of competition from online retailers and gay bars have long since dropped their “haven” status, but to bring this diatribe back to the point, what of gay pride? Can you still celebrate the other when the other no longer exists?
Personally, I believe the answer is yes. It’s important to make a distinction between equality and assimilation. Did women want to become men? Did blacks want to become whites? Look, we’re not straight, and we don’t want to be straight, we just want to be treated with the same respect and dignity afforded the rest of the country. It seems a simple enough statement and yet, even now, part of me cringes at the thought that someone may read those words and somehow try to turn this around on me. My point is that equal treatment does not mean you can’t be proud of who you are or where you come from. It doesn’t mean that you can’t go to a social setting where like-minded individuals congregate, or read a book aimed at a specific target market with a single, unifying trait. There will always be gay people (and lesbian, bi, trans, etc. It’s a blanket statement). And while we might not always need to fight for our rights, it doesn’t mean we should forget those who did and their struggle. Pride is about not only oneself, but the GLBT community and its history.
We’re here, we’re queer, and we always will be. Happy Pride, everyone