August 13, 2005

Sex: Pride

Pride and self-respect: these could be considered synonyms. If you take pride in who you are or what you do, is that the definition of self-respect, or only a single aspect of it? Do you have to ensure others know of your accomplishments before they count?

I've certainly done things that I'm proud of, but I don't feel any real need to brag about them: they are just a part of what I do or what I have done, nothing more. I ride motorcycles; write plays and stories; have a wonderful sex life; debate politics.

I can swim.

I'm reasonably healthy, moderately attractive (I think), and intellectually skeptical. I play well with others, obey most laws, and own a house without a mortgage.

All of these things contribute to my own sense of pride, and why not? There's a fair amount to humble myself over, too: I'm astoundingly lazy, too sarcastic and piss-poor broke. I wear "Coke bottle" glasses, an atrocious singer, and am nowhere near as fit as I was just a few years back. I don't make enough money to treat my wife as she deserves.

All told, I'm content with what I am and what I'm doing. But then, it's easy for me to be so. Among all the things I am is also male, white, and hetrosexual. Oh, and born in Canada, and in modern times. When I say that I grew up (and still am) poor, I mean Canadian poor: I've got glass in all my windows.

Now, what say there was some aspect of myself that was considered, by society at large, to be not just slightly weird but utterly intolerable? I've never had a need to hide any part of myself from others; sure, there's things I don't tell people, and things that I don't think they'll want to know, but I don't lie about my life because I don't need to.

Question: why are there gay pride parades?
Answer: the need was there.

Ask the majority of gay people if they chose to be gay, and you'll get a very empahtic NO. Who would want to grow up in a world where you weren't supposed to exist? Where your very presence meant you were a threat to society? Fear, doubt, self-loathing, lonliness are all words you hear when a homosexual talks about their youth. A strong argument could be made that pride parades aren't about pride so much as sheer joy at being allowed to exist. That acceptance has to include the rights and freedoms that exist for others in this society, or else it rings hollow.

Allow me to mention one friend of mine: her partner of ten years was dying of cancer. There was little chance of her survival, and they both knew it - for the last days of her life, she was going to be in a hospital, which she had been in and out of several times over the year previously. Finally, it was time for her last visit, and when she went through the front door, my friend never saw her again. That was because she wasn't part of her partners "immediate family", and was barred from visiting by the blood relations who hadn't spoken to their child and sibling for a decade. There was nothing she could do about it. The same family took everything they could from my friend with the claim of "bringing it back to the family", and tried to take more with an argument that "it might have been [our daughters]."

This was less than five years ago.

I didn't like that, didn't want it to happen, didn't see anything that was right or good about it. I still don't. So when I consider the twitching rage some can fly into at the mention of gay marriage, they get, at best, a confused glance; at worst, a boot to the teeth.

I did say I obeyed most laws, right?

I would be simply astounded if more than 5,000 couples across Canada got married (not including cross-border marriages) in the first five years. Will this symbolize the end of marriage, as this shaky piece of causality reporting concludes? Or is it just an extention of rights to another minority, acceptance by a nation that is trying to help all its citizens?

Acceptance. Something else to be proud of.
posted by Thursday at 9:37 pm


Blogger Gazetteer said...


Parades and laws.

They both matter.

12:07 pm  

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