July 1997
s m u g
three dollar bill
by Willie Love


What I'm Proud Of

It's over now, and so we bid adieux to the rainbow flags, the pink and lavender triangles, the AIDs ribbons and over-iconified symbols of homo culture here in the big town. On Gay Pride day in lower Manhattan, even the straightest boys from the outerboroughs want to be queer, if only to be in the limelight for the afternoon. Sure, there are those who in a fit of either insecurity or just knowing that they don't have the panache to carry off being a faggot for a few hours wear the buttons that say "straight but gay-friendly" which I could deconstruct as a whole column, but I spent five hours doing that last night over drinks with a bitchqueen named Spike and three lesbian gym teachers. Who says stereotypes have no root in reality?


I don't have a boyfriend right now, but if I did, I don't think I would have wanted to parade down Sixth Avenue holding his hand. This is not meant to be a reflection of the quality of the men I date, or to say that I don't think fags should hold hands. Merely that I'm not a hand holder. I have my tender moments, but I just don't like to share them with the rest of the world. I don't really care who knows I'm gay, and by all standards I am out of a closet I never really was in, but I have a hard time mustering the energy to rally behind something I'm convinced I have no control over.

I feel the same way about baldness conventions, twin conventions, and associations established for uniting all the men in the world named "Dave." I know this is an unpopular idea, since the closest I've come to a serious gay bashing was last weekend as I announced this to some of my homo friends at an after hour club. I thought there was going to be a lynching.

I was then inundated with all the arguments - "We need voice!", "We have rights, we need more rights!", "People need to know we're just like everyone else!" Whatever. We do need rights, like partner sponsored health care, and the tax benefits afforded married couples, but having the right to wear too tight hot pants and sashay down the Avenue of the Americas just isn't one I'm down with. I hate to see all that organizational energy wasted. There is the possibly valid argument that all that pride on Pride Day will inspire the meek to join up and take action, but I'd like to see people work by example. Better coverage of gay related activism that doesn't involve dressing up in heels and taking over a TV news broadcast or posturing the construction sites of major cities with posters outing celebrities. The productive kind.


Honestly, the same could be said of non-gay issues as well. Better media coverage of people fighting the real fight to women's rights to control their own body as opposed to the madcap propaganda that the radical right manages to get on TV.

Fear is what drives the media, and I'm waiting for the day Andy Rooney is replaced by a segment called "Alarmist's Corner" on 60 Minutes. The Pride Day festivities get a lot of coverage because those people are "colorful" and conform to predetermined stereotypes, at least the ones that make the news, and there's something a little scary about all those gay people in one place at one time. So - fear of a pink planet kicks in and as the gay people are seen frolicking and cavorting, the reactionary Americans can quiver from the relative safety of their own homes about how those gays with their AIDs and their wanting all those rights just aren't normal. Because we're not acting normal. We're camping it up for the cameras.


So, the other 364 days of the year we pass right under these same people's noses nearly undetected. Doing whatever it is we do, if we are the type to do anything at all, quietly and anonymously. And I find it no surprise that most of the people you see out frolicking on Pride Day are not the same people you meet at action committee meetings or see staffing the phones at the Gay Men's Health Crisis. The day after the Pride Parade all those straight but friendly people go back to just caring about things that affect the quality of their own lives, and no one is the wiser.

Now, I'm not saying I'd like to see Pride Day done away with and everyone driven back in the closet. What I'd like to see is a world where my gayness wasn't the most interesting thing abut me to the media. I'd like to see some interest in the novel on my hard drive or have someone ask me about my consummate skill in tying fishing lures using my homo anal retentive precision, or ask me what I've learned about relationships in all my nine years of standing behind bars in swanky neighborhoods. Because I believe real freedom for gay people comes when the very fact that they are gay is not what sets them apart. I guess I have a dream. That people will be judged not for the color of their pride flag, but the content of their character. I know I will get lambasted for twisting the words of Doctor king, but a good idea.




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