I attended my first Pride Parade back in the late 1990s. My girlfriend at the time worked with a man who was singing in a choir during the event so we went to watch him. It was a great time and a fun experience. The whole day was jovial and people from the LGBTQ community and folks not from that community alike had a great time. While I haven’t attended every year since then, I have attended many times since. Unfortunately the theme and tone of Pride events has changed so much that I can no longer bring myself to attend.
I understand that I am straight, am not a key organizer or sponsor. I know that my attending or not attending certainly will not make or break their events. I suspect though that I represent a growing group of people who have tired out with the increasing politicization of the event and this is sad.
Pride. The word in itself says and means so much. The gay community for so long had to work and fight in order to be able to live their lives openly and without shame. Acceptance of the gay community has been a slow process but it has made fantastic inroads in the last 40 years or so. In looking at some of the comments on my last blog posting, it still has a way to go.
While laws against homosexuality were rightly repealed over 40 years ago, it still took a generation for real acceptance to become common place. Gay bars still were hidden with back alley entrances. Gay bashing still happened and authorities often did not investigate or prosecute those assaults with the vigor that they merited. I grew up in a time where I could be sent to the principle’s office in school if I called another student an asshole but likely would get little more than a finger wagged at me if I called them a “fag”. That pejorative was in common use back then and I can’t pretend that I didn’t use it back then.
While I certainly was never involved in gay bashing and always felt that gay people deserved equal rights, I held some sad views in my younger years that had to be shed. I was still uncomfortable around openly gay people and tended to avoid them. I had to grow up. I had to meet and get to know people from the LGBTQ community in order to learn that they simply were people like anybody else. That happened in my early 20s and I am still growing to this day.
An element that helped me and countless other straight people who needed to learn these lessons was Pride events. What better place to simply get together, enjoy time outside and celebrate the open display of a love and acceptance of different sexual orientations in an open environment?
A community of people who were shunned for holding hands or kissing in public could at least for a day fully express and enjoy themselves without judgement from those around them. Yes, it would be (and hopefully will be) great if that judgement never existed outside of Pride events but we still have a way to go. Pride parades and celebrations do awesome work to end that stigma.
In being critical of the foolish decision by Calgary Pride to demand that the Calgary Police Service not wear their uniforms in the parade, I have been criticized and essentially told to shut up as I am not part of the LGBTQ community. Indeed, I do recognize that this is their event and they have every right to run the event as they please. I still retain the right to be critical of their choices however.
While Pride events are run by and made for people in the LGBTQ community, they are critically important to people outside of that community too. As Pride keeps venturing into controversial issues outside of the core meaning of the event, people like me will stop attending and the great bonding of communities that used to happen will begin to erode. The event used to be focused on inclusiveness and now is drifting deeply into exclusivity.
All over North America Pride events are bowing to extreme movements. BLM managed to bully Toronto Pride into removing its visible police presence. Other Pride parades are battling as anti-Israel groups are demonstrating in them.
Politicians are invited but are bound by long lists of demands in order to participate. If a politician cant attend for whatever reason, they are often demonized.
Yes, the police in the past used to be one of the worst offenders with the LGBTQ community.They often overlooked gay bashing. They constantly busted gay nightclubs and bars for lewd behavior. Those days are long gone. Gay bashing is heavily prosecuted and gay clubs are simply bound by the same AGLC rules as any other bars.
I can understand an element of distrust of the police remaining among the older members of the gay community. All the same, what better way to remove that distrust than to have the police openly parading in full uniform and in support of Pride?
They hypocrisy of Pride organizers is galling. They say that they welcome the police participation as long as they don’t identify in uniform as being police officers.
This is much like employers who used to tell gay staff “I welcome gay employees but you have to keep your gayness to yourself.”
Hey, its your event people. Run it as you please. If Pride wants to keep drawing and educating the public as a whole however, they will have to get back to what the whole affair was all about. We want to support the LGBTQ community but don’t feel that we have to be drawn into a whole list of other left wing causes in doing so.
Until that happens, I no longer have time for Pride events and I suspect that a growing number of other people who don’t want to get mixed up in those things.
Pride did some great work and helped make great societal inroads. I hope that they can do so again one day.