Every year around this time, Indy Pride takes over my entire circle of friends and sweeps most of them into Indianapolis for what usually amounts to an ironic hot dog eating contest colored with vague political leanings. I have already been asked by 5 people if I'm going.
Again, as always, the answer is no.
The parade itself is a good idea, yes, should any sense of community or obligation ever cross the minds of the people dancing about in bikinis with spray-on tan lines.
I will share with you the flaws in the system that we have.
I will begin with a revelation for members of my community: we aren't all just gay and straight. It's not us against them. There are so many different kinds of people that are excluded by this festival. Most prominently, my friend Millie is in no way represented. To top that off, even as a represented group, I feel out of place. I don't have a hot body to show off. I don't feel comfortable surrounded by a bunch of sweaty mostly-naked guys who have all met at one time or another on Adam4Adam. I do realize that this is not all that's there, believe me. I am not stupid. I am observant, but I do see that this is the majority. People like myself are not actively represented at pride because we do not belong there. Pride has become about how hard everyone can put their sexual orientation as priority one, and that simply does not work in my case.
I am not just gay. I am a writer first. And just so you know, putting my writing first is a creative choice that you don't have to agree with. You don't have to see it as a viable career or a worthwhile pursuit. You can passive-aggressively tell me that I'm missing opportunities or just ignore my accomplishments all you want, be you friends or family or total strangers.
My life is my life, and I choose not to throw my gender preference out at my only good card. I don't have to be a gay writer. Yes, my characters are gay, but I'm not writing for gays only. My stories are not soft-core porn unless I write them that way. I don't have to load them with sex scenes to prove that my characters are gay, or myself for that matter. My gender preference is sometimes the deciding factor in the gender preference of my main characters, but that mostly comes from the fact that I have little experience as a straight person or a bisexual person or a trans-gendered person or anyone other than a gay man, and even then only in the functional, occasional sense of the word.
I also don't write many female main characters, for the same reason. Everyone understands that reasoning, but I always get questions about why all my main characters are gay.
I've diverted from the topic. Refocus.
The people I see going to pride are usually shiny dirty gays and gay rights activists who mistakenly believe that their message is more effective when aimed at the gay community rather than their oppressors or the people who can do something about it.
Believe me, protesting unfair treatment of gays at a gay pride parade is not effective at all. To use a very old cliché, these people are preaching to the choir. It's like the members of my dad's church trying to save each other but never venturing outside the four walls of the church as an active Christian. (believe me, as an atheist, I would say that's a pretty fair and balanced comparison.)
I also feel that, as a gay man, I am expected to treat pride as a big hookup festival, and therefore I do, which is to say that I refuse to participate.
If you choose to go to pride, that's your business, and I suppose I support you getting your drink on and seeing lots of eye candy and eating your ironic hot dogs, but personally, I think I can make a bigger impact on this world if I don't assume that the gay card is the only one I have to play.
No, I shan't be going.
You can rail against me with your rainbow flags and say that I'm bitter and angry, and I'm not about to disagree with you. I won't go so far as to say you've all made me this way with your shallow dumping rituals and using me when I was younger, though that may be partially true. I am above all of that. What I will say is that I'm not protesting the community. I am protesting you. I don't dislike the community. I dislike you. After all, I am part of the community, whether I like it or not. I have my own corner of it, far from yours, and I would simply prefer not to step into your sparkly greased up photo booth of rainbow disease. I'll stay over here with my writing and my iced coffee, and I would prefer you show me some respect and stop trying to pull me out of it. I like it here.