This post steps away from my typical topic of running and books and steps a bit more into the personal aspect of my life away from the geekyness that is me.
I am largely a quiet person about my thoughts regarding politics, world events and in general my life as a lesbian woman. However, with the recent world events in Orlando I have been sharing snippets of others thoughts other social media platforms; a little nervous to delve into the abyss of the topic that has turned from a tragedy to equal parts gun debate and religious rhetoric. The loss of 50 people, 50 gay people, the true focus of the story was infuriatingly getting lost in the media ratings chaos. But after a conversation with a friend, I felt compelled to delve deeper into my thoughts and the topic in general.
A friend asked a genuine question about Pride, and the often outrageous antics and outfits one can find there. Most major cities have the events geared more towards family and the community outreach during the day, followed by the block party in the evening. For example, in Baltimore they shut down the traffic flow to a section of town affectionately known as the “Gayborhood.” The giant block party is filled with fun, frivolity, outrageously dressed people of all genders and for many mass consummation of alcohol ensues. As to be expected, when large amounts of alcohol are consumed, bawdy and outlandish behavior increases. Though not all of the behavior stems as a result of intoxication from alcohol, but is equally the result of intoxication on the freedom they now have to express themselves in a way that properly reflects their being.
My friends concern was related to how others would view the gay community if all they took away were the images of debauchery that is often on full display at block parties.
“What does that say about the gay community?” she asked.
It was a genuine inquiry, not one of judgment or condemnation or impertinence, but one asked out of a true desire to understand. A desire that stems from what I can only assume was a need to understand her new community. A need to understand her place in the gay community when she herself is a more quiet and reserved person not prone to outrageous dress or behavior. All she was truly seeking was an understanding of where she fit.
As usual, I couldn’t properly articulate my thoughts into words at that moment; I said some sales spiel sounding line about Pride is about community and being oneself. And while she said she understood that, she was still trying to wrap her brain about what that says about “us” as a community. Being the internal ruminator that I am, I had to spend the evening thinking about it….and the morning….and while I was driving to work. And then I realized it’s a fairly simple, straight forward reply.
While each of us that attend Pride (or gay bars and clubs) have our own unique reasons, the over arching reason that we go is truly to be with community. It is to be with those that are considered outcasts for breaking societal norms. It is to be with people who share a love of wearing size 13 high heels with their beautifully sequined dress or bow ties and combat boots as the outer expression of their inner self. I will admit that there are some pretty outrageous ensembles and behavior that occur at Pride, but the same can be said for any event you attend whether it is a concert, picnic, church or school. Any event that includes large groups of people is going to have a small percentage of that population marching to the beat of their own drummer; this is not something that is specific to sexual orientation, gender, religion or geographical location. It is a standard aspect of being human.
As someone who has always felt more comfortable on the masculine end of the spectrum in regards to dress, demeanor and hobbies it wasn’t until I stepped into gay bars and clubs and attended Pride that I realized I had found a circle that I could finally outwardly express my inner feelings.
I consider myself worldly and pretty far from being a prude, but I will admit there are often sights at Pride that have made me do a double take or shake my head or blush…and on occasion all three. I will also admit that I that some of my behavior has probably resulted in the same reaction by others.
Sadly, I will admit that I am guilty of passing judgment on my fellow Pride goers. I remember catching myself judging a particular gentleman I saw my first year at Pride. I was doing to this creatively dressed individual what had been done to me through the years. I was doing what my Grandy called, “taking inventory” and projecting my own judgments on his outfit. Which I still think was pretty outrageous…assless chaps and a red solo cup. But so what? Who cares if it was outrageous…he was being himself. Just as I was being myself in my baggy cargo shorts, black beater, butch cut hair, and wallet chain.
In the eyes of many members of society, our outfits were really no different. For both of us we were dressed outrageously based on the societal expectations of our regular Monday-Friday nine to five lives. But for one month a year, and really only a few hours out of that month, we are able to come together and openly be our true ourselves…whether it be high heeled shoes, lipstick, assless chaps or wallet chains.
And yes, there are those that will judge us as we party and revel in our freedom. But the reality and true honesty of the situation is those people are judging us anyway. If they are going to judge us, we might as well be judged for who we truly are not who we try to be to fit in to the narrow minded views of others.
I guess my reply to my friend’s question about what does it say about the gay community-it says that we are who we are and we are fun, creative and loving….and boy do we look good in assless chaps.