It’s that time of year again: this Sunday is Seattle’s Gay Pride Parade, which means the Hill where I live has gotten FESTIVE! Rainbow flags hang from shop windows, light posts are striped in colors, and despite the ceaseless rains (welcome to summer in Seattle…) the streets are slowly filling with bedazzled, costumed gays ready to dance, make-out, flaunt their bodies and generally show the world how proud they are to be gay.
The first Gay Pride Parade began in New York as part of an outgrowth of the Stonewall uprisings, which itself is an interesting little chapter of history: The Stonewall Inn being this windowless little shitbox gay bar in New York’s Greenwich Village run by, of all people, the mafia, the perpetual raiding of which by abusive police eventually led gays to riot in protest, sparking off an entire new wave of gay rights.
In the 40+ years since the Parades have morphed: they’re held all over the world now, and sometimes they’re pure celebration while at other times the focus is more political. As Pride approaches Washington State this year the political is at the forefront: in February our legislature passed a law permitting gay marriage, though due to the oddities of the referendum process that bill has not gone into effect and residents here will be asked to vote directly on this issue come November.
(Not being originally from Washington I’ve always struggled to understand this process; while I appreciate the attempt at a more direct democracy, which is what it seems a referendum promises, in truth I don’t trust myself, to say noting about the majority of my fellow Washingtonians, to make significant legislative decisions by a simple majority vote, and in reality all this process seems to do is bog things down and ensure never-ending equivocating.)
I’ve always enjoyed Pride: only a somber, cape-wearing Poe-spouting goth wouldn’t be won over by all the colors and festivities, and I enjoy supporting my friends and neighbors in the gay community. But my wish for Pride this year is the same as it’s ever been: that a day will soon come when there won’t be a need to hold a Pride Parade any longer.
By this I mean that it’s hopeful to think that we can reach a point where a gay person doesn’t need to be overtly proud of being gay because he or she no longer feels inherently shameful about being gay.
One of the points of Pride is for marginalized, voiceless people to be heard publicly, and what I’m looking forward to is the day when gays’ voices will be neither quieter nor louder than the rest of ours. Perhaps someday our children will think about gay marriage as we now do about the civil rights movement or women’s suffrage or any number of things we look back upon and say to ourselves, What were our forerunners thinking??
We’re not there yet, and permitting gay marriage won’t right the many wrongs, overt and covert, that gay people continue to suffer. But they’re baby steps in the right direction. Stumble and fumble though it may, eventually this baby will be a strong adult that doesn’t need a parade to be heard.
Then again, I know enough gays to believe that need it or not, a parade will be had. After all, it is a parade…