I’ve been reading some great books about gay history, and more on that later, but for now I just wanted to re-post a comment I made on Queers United‘s blog about the question of what we say to straight people who ask us why we have to have a Pride celebration:
Like many things dealing with sexuality, it depends a lot on the individual. Some people center their entire lives around sexuality, or around the broader concept sexuality represent (some lesbians, for example, pride themselves on a woman-identified lifestyle, live in a self-sustaining all-female commune, create with women artists, etc). For others, sexuality is only a small part of identity. Some may consider other parts of their identity a bigger deal (nationality, race, sex, gender identity, etc etc).
Personally, I consider my lesbianism to be a big part of my life. This is because I am active in gay and women’s rights, I think a lot about those subjects, I read about them, and I’m involved in the gay community to some extent. But I think the thing about the Pride question, specifically, is that there is a better answer than “this is just one part of our lives.” My answer would be that we have a parade because we have been attacked by the straight majority, and straight culture does not ALLOW many of us to celebrate on an average day. Most people do not have the luxury of kissing on the street or even holding hands like straight people do. Pride is also a celebration of our history, of our struggle. It grew out of Stonewall and a time where gay people said “we won’t take it anymore.” I don’t say to straight people “this is just one part of who I am,” instead I say “being gay is a more important part of my identity than being straight is an important part of yours, because I am forced to think about it.” Being straight is a default. It isn’t an issue. Sure, straight people can celebrate if they want to, but the fact is, they do – they celebrate in their weddings and anniversary parties. They bring their partners to events and no one asks any questions. All I’m asking for is one day of the year to feel normal. That’s what I’d say to a straight person who attacks our right to pride.