Our Community’s Thoughts on Pride: How are we presenting ourselves?

July 12, 2017 in inQueery

Watching some of the footage of Pride events, I start to wonder whether this will get a positive reaction from those watching. Members of the LGBT community look on with pride (pun intended), but what of the rest of the population?  Going back a few years, I can certainly see the need for campaigning – by being outrageous and ‘in your face’ – the message WAS – there’s an LGBT community out there and it’s BIG and demands its rights. BUT – I submit – the battle has been won – our rights are now pretty much enshrined in law. I know there are still gaps but the war IS over – the odd ‘skirmish’ is not worth a nuclear response!!

SO – what is the point of Pride now?

What I fear is that by being outrageous and even deliberately offensive – with displays seemingly intended to shock and/or offend – we risk alienating many who have accepted that we are now part of the mainstream population. I feel that the message we should be putting across is that we are NO different – in fact fairly ordinary people who like to have fun like everybody else. It feels like we are ‘rubbing their noses in their defeat’ when most of them never even fought a battle. We do NOT need a parade as an excuse to declare our LGBT membership – we do NOT need to look for possible reasons to get upset because someone had inadvertently said or written something that offends our – often too sensitive – LGBT sensitivities.

We ask for tolerance/acceptance from others – is it not appropriate to show tolerance/acceptance OF others when they ‘get it wrong’?  If they do this intentionally to offend us then quite rightly they should be taken to task – but most often a wrong pronoun or out of date term is NOT delivered intentionally – and may even be a compliment – feeling at ease and forgetting the change. A stare is most often NOT rudeness but uncertainty – NOT wanting to offend – wanting to get it right BUT being unsure. We ask/expect these sensitivities from others yet all too often are guilty of disregarding them ourselves.

Is it fair to expect someone to cast aside years of sincerely held beliefs/tenets at the drop of a hat?  This is especially true of older folk who often express themselves in ways that young folk would never dream of doing. I think of my own grandparents who would probably get arrested for saying today some of the things they said when I was kid.  BUT they were the most tolerant accepting people who actually fought for people’s rights – and it is THEIR hard fought battles and sacrifice that enable us to have the freedoms we enjoy today!!

We have a big advantage in this area – we – pretty much – know who we – L – G – B – T – we’ve known it for years. The person we’ve just met who needs to interact with us does NOT know this and NOT wanting to offend or insult wants to ‘get it right’ so they look intently or stare trying to decide whether this guy wearing rather feminine garb should be addressed as sir or madam.  Quite a few men take great exception to being addressed as madam, and women similarly dislike being addressed as sir!!!!

So what should be done? I think we need to take a step back and try to see ourselves as others see us – try to understand what they might be feeling – not because of bigotry – there’s no excuse for that – but because they don’t understand us. Most importantly we need to ensure that Pride puts across a POSITIVE message and image of our community – so think before acting!

 

 

Samantha Stephens is a facilitator for the Pacific Center Transgender Group and a Visiting Writer at InQueery.