Every year during the traditional gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer+ (GLBTQ+) pride celebrations, this question is continually posed to members of our community and culture, mainstream society, politicians and social commentators. The responses vary as to the background, political and religious leanings and social opinions and views of the persons asked.
Unfortunately, each year the replies increase in the expression of negativity. Aside from our community and cultural populations, the consensus grows as to the useless need for any GLBTQ+ pride commemoration. Many believe that equal rights have been obtained and flourish for all of us, regardless of our identity. However, recent actions and events indicate otherwise.
It is important to note that the visibility of our display of our pride frequently varies from individual to individual. Some feel the need for a prominent unfurling of our confidence by waving a flag or painting our bodies. Others are comfortable and content with merely publicly demonstrating their affection within our community by physically touching our otherwise engaging themselves and their nudity. There exists no concrete standard to be observed by all. My spouse, Aaron, and I use whatever method we find appropriate and available for the occasion.
Immediately following the SIR (Stonewall Inn riots) in June, 1969, the emerging same gender loving communities recognized the need for celebrations in honour of all the newly “liberated” people to acquire acceptance, identification and recognition of themselves as a confident and proud culture within the mainstream population. Having survived the “closet” lifestyle for the vast majority of their secreted lives, these individuals needed to embrace themselves and build their new identity.
Pride celebrations were seen as a tool to encourage this need and in June, 1970, exactly one year after the SIR uprising, “gay liberation” events were held in New York City, San Francisco and Los Angeles to honour the occasion and to promote a fostering of community. These first observances attracted sizeable crowds of the growing community and their supporters – as well as protestors!
The initial events were determined to be successful and by the second anniversary of SIR, other municipalities were planning and staging their own festivals and parades to mark the occasion. Stonewall riots had most definitely captured and inspired our attention and our dreams for eventual equality!
The first “gay liberation” observances soon evolved into pride festivals in order for people to celebrate their sexual freedom and identity. These witnessed the growing confidence that we felt as a community experiencing the first steps toward self-identification. We no longer accepted the archaic and derogatory label of “homosexual.” We welcomed the terms gay, lesbian and bisexual as appropriate titles of distinction and identity as constituents of the emerging culture that now entailed all of us. The decade of the 1960’s opened the doors for change and we became inspired by a new identity and hope for an improvement in our collective future. Freedom from centuries of condemnation, isolation and oppression was finally underway!
The popularity of pride events and the audiences they attracted made us aware of the fact we now numbered more than just an isolated “few.” There were now a sizable group of us and we were no longer alone. This awareness opened our eyes to the reality that we had much more in common than just our sexual situation. Others existed with similar abilities, attributes, ideals and interests. Community-building was now another development happening!
Our discovery of pride – within ourselves, in what we are and in who we are – became a solid foundation. It enabled us to become a working movement to initiate change, enhancement and growth, not only within our own society in general but throughout the world.
Despite our many differences, we acknowledge shared goals, ideals and objectives. In order to emblaze and empower our recognition and visibility, the Rainbow flag was selected to represent us. Each colour represents a common behaviour, belief and/or standard. The flag was designed by San Francisco artist Gilbert Baker and was first used in 1978. It was rapidly adopted across the globe.
The Progress Rainbow flag was first unfurled in 2017 and was designed by Daniel Quasar. It includes the original banner plus the addition of insertions to represent the components of both racial and sexual diversities as well as representation of persons living with HIV/AIDS and those who died from the virus. The Progress flag is considered by many to truly reflect the majority of all persons within the GLBTQ+ culture. Many persons, both within our culture and from the outside, have commended Dan Quasar for incorporating the original Rainbow flag as a part of his design.
Author’s note: This flag is my personal favourite as I believe it is entails a greater representation of all of us – no matter what or who we consider ourselves.
In 1988, the GLBTQ+ culture launched National Coming Out Day on October 11, annually, in support of all people taking a “giant step” out of the closet and making themselves an example of pride. The concept is based on the personal being political – a popular idea. The emphasis is the basic form of social activism as openly acknowledging oneself to family, friends and colleagues and living life as a confident bisexual, gay or lesbian person.
The fact that homophobia thrives in an atmosphere of ignorance and silence, once people know they have loved ones – family or friends – who are themselves bisexual, gay or lesbian they will be less than willing to engage in homophobic or hateful behaviours. The goal being making the world a less repressive place.
The examination of the title question here today, Is Pride Necessary?, provides me with the simple response: yes! Not every one of us are raised to maturity in an environment that is accepting and supportive of a person’s prerogative to become the person that they indeed are. Not all of us are able to make that determination in our lives. Therefore, I feel that pride is not only necessary but essential.
If at least one person questioning her/his sexual identity is answered, then yes, pride is necessary.
If at least one suicide over sexual identity is averted, then yes, pride is necessary.
If at least one despondent and lonely person finds acceptance and friendship, then yes, pride is necessary.
If at least one ideal is met and achieved, then yes, pride is necessary.
If at least one person reaches out and helps another, then yes, pride is necessary.
If at least one dilemma or problem is solved, then yes, pride is necessary.
A community is based on determination, purpose and through person-to-person contact. A culture is built upon communities interacting and working together. A cultural dynamic often opens doors and initiates a positive development for humanity, then yes, pride is necessary.
This year, on June 13, 2022, police in the state of Idaho, in the USA, arrested 31 people who had face coverings, white supremacist insignia, shields and an “operations plan” to riot and open gunfire on an GLBTQ+ Pride event in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, a city of about 50,000 people near the border with Washington state. Police identified all those arrested as members of Patriotic Front, a white supremacist group already known for extremist tactics.
The organizers of the GLBTQ+ event said it was a family-friendly community event celebrating diversity and building a stronger and unified community for all. The sponsoring group is the North Idaho Pride Alliance and the event was entitled “Pride In The Park.”
In another incident related to the same Pride In The Park, police conducted a similar action against the Panhandle Patriots, a local motorcycle club. The cyclists were organizing a “Gun d’Alene” event to disrupt and openly assault the Pride In The Park “queers.” Firearms were seized in the motorcyclists arrests.
If law enforcement need to take actions such as the above, then yes, pride is necessary.
Roger Poladopoulos/ReNude Pride
Author’s Note: The next post entry for here is planned for Monday, August 29, 2022, and the proposed topic is: “Making Memories #2!” This post is composed by my spouse, Aaron.