Bono wrote the lyrics to Pride for Martin Luther King, but the title accurately captures the ethos of LGBT+ pride; engendering love and acceptance over bigotry and hatred.
Coming out late, my relationship with the Pride event hasn’t been any easier than my misguided relationship with the mother of my children. Ironically though, that is exactly what makes Pride so important, it gives us strength and a sense of community.
Before my attention was drawn to the fact that I may not be altogether straight, the Pride march was nothing more than a minor irritation, a parade of almost naked, beautiful bodies that blocked the streets and made me late for breakfast. Yes, I did notice that the men were beautiful, and if anything, that subconscious acknowledgement made my tirade about it over breakfast quite out of proportion to the inconvenience caused.
And then Sister Nature sent me the memo and I dutifully came out to my wife and life, as one does.
Pride didn’t care about my past, it didn’t judge and snub; it was like a huge support group reminding me that I have to live my life for myself, and nobody else. It welcomed me to my future and said well done you! And, for a while, my life was a sequence of fabulous affairs and hedonistic encounters.
For a while.
But here’s the rub, and it’s not the pleasurable kind, coming out is not a binary event; you’re not in the closet one day and out of it the next, your mindset instantaneously adjusted to the new truth that you have embraced. You find yourself coming out everyday, whenever you meet new people, start a new job, join a new club. And the closet door stands open behind you, telling you life could be easier, beckoning you to stop the insanity, what were you thinking, what kind of monster deserts his wife and children in a wave of hedonistic pursuits, that must surely be just a phase?
For a while, Pride and I were not talking to each other. It’s called internalised homophobia, and admit it or not, many of us have it, some of my friends have it, some of you have it. Society builds it into us as we move through adolescence, some religions teach us that we are going to hell, friends and colleagues make homophobic comments or jokes, and it all sinks in.
You can’t be gay because it is abhorrent.
And now the sexy, comfortable-in-their-skin boys flexing their pecs for the TV cameras didn’t turn me on anymore, they made me angry. The garish floats made me angry, fucking gays with their own special parade, rubbing it in everybody’s faces instead of just doing it quietly behind closed doors, like everybody else. But there’s the problem you see. There’s no straight pride because heteros don’t need to keep it behind closed doors, to fight for the right to express spontaneous affection for each other on the street, or in the movies. And it has been a fight; people have died just so that you can hold your partner’s hand when you go out for coffee.
And that is why we have Pride, it serves an actual purpose, a couple of purposes in fact. Pride keeps us moving forward, it keeps us from being sucked back into the shadows, it puts it out there for the world to see in order that homosexuality be normalised and accepted, because it is normal, just another variation in nature’s awesome scheme.
It seems there is much more that still needs to be done, but every overturned bigoted ruling is another step in the right direction, and another reason to rejoice and shout it from the float-tops. With our shirts off.