With the summer upon us, gays everywhere begin to think of one thing… well two things: (1) Looking good in the least amount of clothing possible and (2) PRIDE! Gay pride really is a second Christmas for homos and their straight/bi-curious friends, a Christmas laden with Speedos, binge drinking, camaraderie and making out with complete strangers from out of town. For those living in the Northwest, our summers are dominated by Pride events, with Portland, Seattle, and Vancouver, BC Prides all occurring in succession. Pride is a mini-vacation, with the majority of us taking three-day weekends (or calling in sick on Monday) and driving short distances to break from our normal lives.

What once started with a march through the city, has now become a three-day event, filled with house parties, pool parties, BBQ’s and get-togethers. All ending in a huge block party. For those that have never been to a pride, the block party is truly something interesting. Within this one city-block, the sidewalks are lined with makeshift bars, grills cooking the usual summer BBQ fare for those who dare to be seen eating at a gay event, and a stage with rainbows everywhere. Gracing the stage with their presence are numerous foul-mouthed drag queens, muscular porn stars, twinky go-go dancers and D-list entertainers, usually some one-hit-wonder from the late eighties/early nineties or an American Idol runner up. Most importantly though, the block party is filled with every ‘mo and mary in a 20 mile radius. It is a literal “who’s who” of the gay community, or a “who’s that” depending on the city. Although it may look like a harmless shirtless boy-party, the debauchery that can occur rivals that of Spring Break on Girls Gone Wild. I have seen the ads: I know straight people are no better. But I digress. The point is all of these homos gather for one purpose: to dance and drink from 11am ’till 2am.

Some have argued though that this is ALL that Pride has become. That the word pride has disappeared, and what remains is a non-stop party centered on alcohol and lecherous acts. Is this what Pride is really about? No. Pride represents a celebration of our individuality and sexuality that is still oppressed by society. This is a time we can feel as though we own the city and walk the streets without being accosted and afraid of what we might encounter. Though the more courageous or outspoken (by the way that’s a euphemism for bitchy) do this the majority of the year, during Pride even the most meek among us is not afraid to be gay. This is our one time a year to truly live life openly in a society. A society in which the consequence of this is discrimination. A fact of which we seem to be constantly reminded of in the media. For enduring this year round, I say, yes, we do deserve a day in which a whole city block is devoted to a party thrown in our name. True, some of us completely over-indulge and are guilty of extremely inappropriate behavior- however, this is NOT representative of the overall population. The majority of us are there to celebrate with our old and new friends and take part in a holiday and break from our daily lives of struggling with the decision to tell a loved one or coworker the truth about our sexuality or worrying about showing public affection to our significant other due to what hateful things we might be called.

This being said, I can see the critique: perhaps some of us have become too much about the celebration and we have lost sight in the recognition of others. For those that support us on a daily basis, the most important event of Pride weekend is the parade. The very parade that was the foundation on which Pride was built. The parade, which occurs earlier in the day, does take a backseat to some who are more eager to begin the festivities. The parade is just as much of an integral part of the weekend as anything else that occurs. This event is an opportunity for organizations, businesses and family/friends to march down the middle of the city, in order to honor us. For me, the ultimate show of support is seeing all of the PFLAG (Parents, Families & Friends of Lesbians and Gays) proudly marching with signs exclaiming how much they love their gay children/friends, proclaiming the need for equality in marriage. These individuals come together to champion for our rights and publicly show their love and admiration for their loved one’s individuality. In addition to this, it is also our opportunity to have a more public showing of our lives. This is an opportunity to confront stereotypes, break gender norms and broadcast ourselves to the rest of the community. This is an essential part of Pride. To miss this is to have an incomplete experience, and miss a major point in the experience that is Gay Pride.

Submitted by: Dan F.

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