Sunday, June 14, 2009

"Pride" is a Poor Term

With the month of June, the Gay Pride parades and festivals put in an annual appearance throughout the country. And once again I am confused by the concept of being proud of something that is an innate condition.

Of the many gay and lesbian individuals I know and have met, many would not choose to be gay if it were a choice they could make. They acknowledge that life would be much easier if they had been born heterosexual. Regardless, they are good people who live lives of dignity and joy. Others would express their position as having come to terms with their lives, considering their sexual orientation as secondary to their identification as a whole person, a parent or a partner to whoever they love, regardless of what the gender of that person may be. "Pride" in ones homosexuality doesn't enter into the equation in the opinion of those who simply want the same opportunities, safeguards and access as anybody else.

I am short, nearsighted and right-handed but it has never occurred to me to join others and march to demonstrate "pride" in any of these conditions. "Pride" is a demanding sort of word. The Oxford dictionary defines it as, "Overweening opinion of one's own qualities, merits, etc.; arrogant bearing or conduct; exalted position, consciousness of this arrogance." It is one of the seven deadly sins.

So what might a better term be? How about "Gay Hope?" "Gay Joy?" "Gay Community?" None of those things demands that a sceptical public extend carte blanche to every gay antic across the spectrum. But they do demand respect for a community that is intrinsically cohesive and supportive and deserves to receive the same human, partnership and family rights as any other.

Our society pays far too much attention to labeling others by gender and sex and should pay more attention to individuals and people. We'd all be far happier if we let each other be who and what we are without qualification so long as we don't harm each other in the process.

People who see the world in black and white have no idea how many rich shades of gray exist between the two.

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