It’s Pride month here in the US (see, we get a month, but we don’t get lots of basic human rights), which means, among other things, that it’s the season of Pride parades.
I’ve been going to New York Pride since I was in high school, missing it here and there for travel or rehearsals, but mostly going year after year. And I’ve watched Pride change from something angry, or at least defiant, in the 80s to the corporate excess of the post-2000 era to whatever it is now, which seems like a shadow of what it once was. And so, as it approaches this year, I’m a little bit torn about what to do. I don’t want to go if the whole thing just feels sad.
But it does feel sad, and not in the right ways. Because it’s not sad like it used to be when the moment of silence seemed to make the whole city hold its breath. Now it’s just sad because the route is shorter (due to city budget cuts that have impacted all parades) and the fact that fewer people turn out in favor of skipping right to the parties.
But honestly, I thought I was just being cranky and “hey you kids, get off my lawn” about this. But then a friend who has recently moved to Texas from NYC tweeted about Pride there, about how different it is in a state actively trying to take away your rights.
Which means all of this is about the evolution of community and about assimilation again. About how we’re not supposed to be able to have it both ways, but how we are supposed to be grateful for floats from Chipotle and Delta (do they make you feel more human?). And let’s not even get into the marginalization I feel as a woman at Pride — there’s the dance and the women’s dance. I am just as gay as you, and people shouldn’t make assumptions about gender, and I hate the many, many types of segregation that go on in my community (along lines that include orientations, genders and race).
My community. Which I feel like I need more than ever because we are in this fight for so many things that are so close, so close, right now. But that community feels more fractured, apathetic, and lost than it ever has. We weathered crises and have wound up at sea.
I’m working on a bit of fiction right now that requires me to imagine what it will be like — on the news, in certain cities — on the day when equal marriage is legalized on a national level here. I lived in DC for a long time, so it shouldn’t be that hard for me to find the image, the moment, my story needs. Certainly, I can list all sorts of things people partied or held vigil in front of the White House over; after all, I lived just a few blocks away for nearly five years.
Yet imagination is hard when you’ve spent your whole adult life waiting on something you’re sure will never come and yet can almost taste. You get muddled. You get confused. You forget how in a lot of cases life will just go on like nothing is different: you’ll still get stuck in traffic, lose your dry-cleaning ticket, and come home from work too tired and pissed off to flip on the TV, and so you may not even find out until someone tells you at the water cooler at work the next day.
Of course, for all those people, there will be the people that hear the second it happens, that will celebrate on the street, or honk their car horns or phone old friends from college or pour into bars, talking to strangers about all the people who didn’t get here with us. So many people will not have gotten there with us.
Right now, though, Pride in New York feels like a victim of the economy and so many years of waiting. I can’t not go, but the thought of it feels disappointing already.
Anyone out there got an answer, other than wait, about how to make it matter or at least seem enjoyable this year?