I am not a pride gay. I don’t get Pride. It isn’t that I don’t see Pride’s historical and cultural significance. I do. And it isn’t that I haven’t shared in the collective suffering that makes Pride so necessary. I have. It’s more that I just don’t feel much of anything in regards to the symbolism and pageantry of Pride month.
I just don’t care about the flags, colors, or events. I don’t resonate with them. I don’t feel positive or good or celebratory when I see LGBT+ Pride. It doesn’t move the emotional needle for me. Not even a little bit. When it does move the needle, it is only towards annoyance at the frivolity of it all.
I feel good when I go for a run. I feel good when I watch a great horror movie. I feel good when I think about Satanism. I feel good when I spend time with a friend. But I don’t feel good when I think about Pride.
It’s taken me a long time to understand that the symbolism of Pride actually matters to some people. I was recently sitting in a meeting full of LGBT people discussing how to celebrate Pride, and the fervor with which they discussed flags and symbolism and colors surprised me. It occurred to me that my colleagues felt something completely alien to me and that the colors, rituals, and symbols of Pride have profound personal and emotional significance to them.
I don’t know what clicks for them that doesn’t click for me, but I’m happy that Pride can bring joy to other LGBT+ folks. I’m happy that they can derive fulfillment and joy from a month-long celebration. I’m happy that they feel something when looking at the LGBT+ flag.
I don’t think that my lack of enthusiasm makes me better or worse than anyone else. I think it’s just a matter of personality. But I do think that progress for sexual minorities means being able to opt in or opt-out of certain rituals.
One of the pernicious effects of oppression is the flattening of an entire people group into a single personality, stereotype, and aesthetic. Liberation means being human, and that, in turn, means being uniquely you with your own personality and temperament. We don’t need to hate each other for having too much Pride fervor or too little. We can celebrate the fact that we can have different aesthetics and personality types in a world that so recently flattened us.
We need many different approaches to creating a better world. We need the revelers who can flood the streets with joy and color and celebration, and we need the quiet curmudgeon shut-ins like me who’d rather avoid it all. But we can all, in our different ways, demand the human dignity that all LGBT+ communities deserve.
In that spirit, I wish you all a begrudging and heartfelt Happy Pride.