But…(here we go!)
I do have an issue with the word 'Pride'. Note: "I have an issue". It's an opinion, and I may come across as being a homophobic arsehole. That's not my intent. I certainly have had to overcome my own own mild socially acquired homophobia, and there may yet be work to be done to completely eradicate it, but I don't consider myself homophobic any more.
My homophobia, which probably involved some teasing and name-calling of Neil Si_______ds in junior school* mostly evaporated when I found out that someone I worked with was gay. It's quite possible that I'd worked with other gay people and had no idea, of course. Afterwards, I could perhaps sense that he was more sensitive, more caring and gentle than the average bloke. But if someone found out I was gay - I'm not, but if by some misunderstanding they came to believe that I was gay, they may also suddenly see some signifiers, like being more sensitive, caring and gentle that the average bloke. Those signifiers are mostly bollocks (figurative bollocks, that is).
Halfway through, I realise this is a bit male-straight/gay. I'm only speaking as a cis-white-male and I only have a little contact with the LGBTQ world. I'm sorry if there's some other way I'm being a dick that I'm not aware of.
I could say "Gay? That's nothing to be proud of.", and you may read that as a sneer of disapproval, such is the written word. So forget that. I'll make a pretentious statement instead:
Take pride in achievements, not in a immutable state of your being.Some examples?
I'm proud to be a woman!
I'm proud to be an American!
I'm a proud Englishman!You perhaps need to imagine Nigel Farage uttering that last one, and then imagining him saying this instead:
I'm proud that my mother had the presence of mind to be in England when she expelled me from her womb, because that has made me better than Johnny Foreigner through no personal effort whatsoever.And I kind of lump "I'm proud to be gay" in with that. It's obviously not as odious as Farage's Nationalism, but thinking about this a bit today eventually led me to the aforementioned pretentious declaration.
At first I was trying to think of better words. 'Unashamed', for example, which, while accurate, is intrinsically rubbish because it also suggest shame in the first place. I figured the best word was 'Am'. As in "I am gay" and "I am straight". Just a simple statement of fact devoid of shame or pride. It's also plain that to expect this to be enough in the current world outside certain areas in the West is naiive.
The Twitter convo has some good points though, one in particular that Gay Pride, as an event, was a protest, but is now a celebration. As a celebration, fair dos. As a protest, given my experience of shedding my homophobia, I think it would be ineffective now. As another pointed out, the apparent need for so many to dress up as village people is kind of self-othering. I think a much more effective protest would be an indication of sameness. A lot of gay people quietly marching and being ordinary would probably make the Cotswolds piss its collective pants.
I think proper homophobes are terrified of ordinary decent homosexuals, but are actually OK with obviously gay, camp, effeminate homosexuals. The Larry Graysons, the John Inmans, the Maldwyn Pugh's. There's safety there. A homophobe wants to know who's gay so he can, I assume, assume the backs-against-the-wall position in plenty of time. But if their kind-of-mate, who they've been drinking with, or on a rugby trip with … if they turn out to be gay, then FUCK!… Anybody could be gay, how are they going to defend themselves from the legions of gays who might bum them? Aaargh!
As an example, I know someone who thought Captain Jack in Doctor Who was quite good, and then saw Barrowman being all fabulous on a talk show, and their brain melted. How. Can. He. Be. Gay?
Let me get back on track...
The Achievement as a mutable state…
I think it's fine to be proud of something you've done. Something you've achieved. The level of pride should be dependant on the achievement. I'm proud of having fathered and part-raised two marvellous children. My wife has and continues to do more than half of of the raising part, you know because Patriarchy. Let's face it though, the part-raising is a much greater achievement than the fathering. The fathering amounts to little more than occasionally squirting some semen into a vagina instead of a sock.
It's an achievement though. And I'm proud of it. At one point I was not a father, and then that state changed, and I was a father.
The mutable state of a homosexual…
The being a homosexual isn't, I think we've established, mutable. If you're gay, you're gay and you were made that way. What's mutable is the state of being homosexual being public. Being in or being out of the closet.
I think this is probably what's meant by gay pride. Not being proud of being gay, but being proud of the achievement of coming out of the closet. It must also be a tremendous relief.
If you're gay and you have hideous modern parents who are secretly pleased that they have a gay child, because it's one up on the McFarquhars, it's probably not a big deal. It's an achievement, but on the scale of my fatherhood. Don't big up your pride too much.
There is no shame in being closeted in some circumstances, maybe even in most of the world. Being closeted is a legitimate defence against mental and physical pain. Against torture. Against death. An immutable state of being is a capital offence. That's fucking crazy. If you're in some shitty place, because Nigel Farage's Mum isn't your Mum, then please, take pride in your closeted survival. And if you take a stand despite this, my word, you deserve a statue come the revolution!
Tim Cook mentions being openly gay with friends and family. It's not a secret, but he's also not broadcasting the fact. He probably felt no need. But today he upped the stakes. Today he broadcast the fact. To misquote Micky Flanagan, now he's out out. He did that because he concluded that this might help someone. This is an admirable thing. Something he has every right to be proud of.
Feel free to comment
*I don't remember doing so, but Neil, if I ever called you a poof or a bender or laughed when someone else did, I'm deeply ashamed, I apologise. I sincerely hope it got better, whether you are gay or not.