As June is GLBTQ Pride Month, many of my acquaintances ask themselves and others the same question: “Is Pride still relevant today?” I think that many of us ask ourselves the exact same question. What may have seemed radical and trendy fifty years ago – is it just as important today? We have evolved as a society and in many ways being GLBTQ no longer carries the stigma that it may have invoked “back in the day.” With the amount of progress that we have made, “Is pride still necessary?”
I am in no position to offer an “official” determination on behalf of the entire GLBTQ community. I don’t even know if anyone is in such a position. We don’t have a monarch or an official elected office-holder. We have no anointed spokes-person. All that we do have is ourselves and our opinions are just as varied as is our numerical membership. I don’t believe that it is possible to achieve an official consensus on the relevance of Pride in our current global society.
Each one of us makes a determination as to whether or not Pride celebrations and/or events are meaningful in our lives. Attendance is not mandatory nor should it be. Similarly, none of us has the right to decide if the commemoration should be abolished. None of us have the authority that empowers us to do so.
As the discussion continues within the GLBTQ community over the continued relevance of Pride, I would like to share two different thoughts about the future of Pride and how it relates to our GLBTQ culture. First, all of us arrive at acknowledging our self-identity, in particular our GLBTQ identity, at different stages in our lives. Some of us are self-aware early in our lives and some are later. For this reason, I firmly believe that Pride serves a purpose in allowing us to experience the diversity and the intensity of our community whenever we acknowledge our shared membership. Be it at age 13 years or age 30+ years. It is an important step in our relationship with our broader community when and where we need it. Similar to a huge “coming out” party as we all do when we “come-out” of the proverbial “closet!”
Second, we all have a vested interest in continuing our pride traditions. For many of us, myself and Aaron, my spouse, included, it is a time for us to re-connect as a community and to re-energize, rejuvenate and renew our cohesiveness as members of the larger GLBTQ community. Life and living is an ongoing process and in attending Pride events, it is a means of keeping current on issues affecting ourselves and our lives that don’t always appear in the headlines or, for that matter, the footnotes of whatever media we subscribe. Our sexuality, whether we like it or not, is what keeps us politicized. As such, there will always be those who seek to differentiate and marginalize us from society. For this reason, we need to remain educated and informed on matters that make us, as a community, a political issue. We cannot afford to be indifferent and ignorant of what is happening outside of our lives. Pride helps to keep us abreast and informed.
Just as our sexuality politicizes our GBLTQ identity, for those of us who are also bare practitioners (naturist/nudist), our lack of clothing similarly politicizes our choice of being clothes-free. Like it or not, nudity is perceived by many as the first step in the moral decay of our society. In their eyes, since we now have marriage equality, the next threat to the “traditional values” within our country is clothes-freedom. To many, nakedness is synonymous with sexual freedom and the right to fornicate in public.
We GLBTQ bare practitioners know otherwise. Clothes-freedom is no more connected to sexual promiscuity than the fashion industry. However, our detractors and enemies waste no time in pointing fingers and blaming us for the dysfunctions of our contemporary society and the moral turpitude rampant among us. In their eyes, our being bare (naked, nude) is the sole reason that the current president is unable to repeal and replace the evils of the Affordable Care Act (incorrectly and ignominiously referred to as “Obamacare”).
We, as GLBTQ bare practitioners, don’t have the luxury of having our own GLBTQ Pride events. However, the growing number of GLBTQ nude organizations and social clubs often have information outlets and exhibits at Pride festivals. Our community often uses these venues as a means of awareness and communication to educate and inform.
For our bare practicing community, as well as other GLBTQ groups too small to hold their own Pride events, we need the larger, inclusive Pride organized activity to help promote our existence, publicize our news and concerns as well as to enable us to connect to the GBLTQ mainstream culture.
After all, as the old adage instructs, ” chain is only as strong as its weakest length.”