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TalonRider

Five Reasons to be Proud

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Who doesn't look forward to June, the official beginning of summer? School’s out, vacation time begins, and, most significantly for those of us who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered, it’s Pride Month.

The sun may shine so brightly that it threatens to burn a hole through our eyes, but it will pale beside the rainbows on display in major cities throughout the world, as gay people openly celebrate their pride with parades and festivals. In some of the more progressive American cities, the rainbow flag may even be flying alongside Old Glory atop City Hall. We've come a long way since 1969 when the Gay Liberation Movement was born at Stonewall. It goes without saying that we still have much traveling to do, but those who oppose us (are you listening President Bush?) would say we've traveled too far already.

Some of us may feel we've come far enough to take Pride parades for granted. But there are still too many gay men and lesbians who fear coming out, and do not feel comfortable displaying their membership in the GLBT community in such a public manner. They not only refuse to participate in the parades, but don't even watch from the relative anonymity of the curb.

In the hope of encouraging as many of my gay brothers and sisters as possible to stand up and be counted, and to publicly proclaim their pride this year, I offer five reasons why we - and this includes you - should be proud to be gay, and happy to admit it to the world.

(1) The words “gay” and “lesbian” were in use in 1969 at the time of Stonewall, but the only ones using them were gays and lesbians. To almost everyone else, we were “fags” and “dykes,” collectively known as “perverts.” Now, when many of us are comfortable calling ourselves “fags” and “dykes” (though not “perverts”), the rest of the world is on notice: those terms are disrespectful and should be avoided. Condemnation awaits anyone with influence (politicians, employers) who dares to use them. This doesn't mean that everyone now likes or respects us, but it is a sure sign that we like and respect ourselves. Our power comes from our self-respect. It comes from our Pride.

(2) Homosexuals of earlier generations could only dream that our right to marry would be a topic of discussion, let alone a dominant issue, in an election year. In Massachusetts, gay marriages are now taking place, and there’s little reason to believe more gay and lesbian marriages won't occur throughout America in the near future. We've made remarkable progress, and that should fill us with Pride.

(3) Of course, President Bush has proposed a Constitutional amendment to prevent same-sex marriages, and while his actions have left many of us appalled, we should also feel just a little flattered. That the president of the United States would take such a drastic step demonstrates that our community has amassed considerable political power. We are a threat, not to the sanctity of marriage, as the president and his conservative supporters like to claim, but to homophobic bigots who wish to deny us full citizenship in the human race. Power equals Pride.

(4) We've been making love all along, but the Supreme Court now says that men can make love to men, and women can make love to women, without fear of arrest. Gay sex is legal, baby, so make lots of love and do it with Pride!

(5) Face it. We’re not going back in the closet. We’re here, we’re queer, and we’re proclaiming it to the world. You should, too. The closet was always a lonely, bleak place to live, but as more gay men and lesbians come out, the lonelier the closet will be. Life can't be lived in the dark. Come out of the closet. Claim your Pride.

Those are five reasons we have the right to be proud. We also have the right to be gay in that other sense of the word: “Merry; happy and carefree; brightly ornamental.” What could be merrier than falling in love? If you’re looking for love, the Pride celebration is as good a place as any to find it.

Almost everybody there is gay, including the cute studs and the foxy ladies. If someone catches your eye, you don't need to think of a clever way to introduce yourself. Just say, “I'm gay.” Offer to help carry someone’s banner. Who knows? You may meet someone and move to Massachusetts to tie the knot.

You can be as carefree and ornamental - as gay - as you want to be at Pride. If you’re a guy and you want to wear a pink tutu or a wedding gown, do it! You won't get bashed, and you won't be mocked. But as the song “Dancing in the Street” says, “It doesn't matter what you wear, just as long as you are there.” This is your parade. The Pride we’re celebrating belongs to you. So, be there. Be gay. Be proud.

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