June is the month designated as "Gay Pride Month". I have often heard people comment that they didn't think it was fair to have a Gay Pride month when there is no Straight Pride month... so what's the big deal??
I shall tell you *gets on soapbox* -- For gays and lesbians, whether individuals accept us or not, we are still seen as an exception to the rule. In most states we still don't have the right to marry the partner of our choice, some fear prejudice from their families or within their workplaces which could lead to the loss of a job (or at the very least a very uncomfortable work environment).
I can't imagine heterosexuals can fully grasp what it is like for a gay individual to live in a world of heterosexism -- assuming that everyone is straight until proven otherwise -- accepting that heterosexual is the standard while homosexual is at best simply tolerated.
97% (my own estimate) of the ads you see on tv - books you see on the shelves - and even movies are geared towards heterosexuals and their lifestyle. I am invited to numerous weddings a year, see women showing off their engagement rings, giving shower gifts, baby gifts, anniversary presents - all geared towards straight couples. When was the last time you went to a store and saw two men or two women holding hands on the advertisement for a wedding registry? When was the last time you saw an Anniversary card at your local Target for a husband to give to his... husband? Perhaps these concepts do indeed exist, but in specialty shops and websites. We are certainly not proportionately included in the mainstream market.
It seems to be since the attitudes in the country assume people are straight until proven otherwise, then every day is straight pride day. "You" (heterosexuals) have it all -- so "we" use one month out of the year to get together as a sign of support and unity - to stand up and be counted - and to show we are not ashamed for how God created us... nor are we ashamed of the way we feel and love.
But now that I have poked my finger at the chest of heterosexism, I now turn my sight towards my "own people". When I first started attending the annual pride parade here in Buffalo back in 2003, I was overwhelmed by all the people who were there. I saw same-sex couples openly holding hands with one another, gay and lesbian parents with their happy/healthy children playing together as a family in the park. It wasn't until I started getting older and mingled more in the "gay sphere" that I realized that the happy couples and families were not goals easily achieved.
The luster of pride has begun to tarnish in my heart over the years as I have experienced the harshness and cruelty that can go on in the local gay community. I have often said that gay men (not being a lesbian I don't feel it appropriate to comment on them) have the worst character flaws of both genders -- while women will often laugh and joke about the "fabulousness" of their gay best friends.. and discuss the love and support they find among gays, I don't think gay men can say the same of each other. Gay men can be real bitches to one another. Plain and simple.
Even when considering all the taunts and name calling I endured in school, I never really felt as insecure about myself as I do when I'm around groups of gay men. Visitors to the Buffalo bars have commented on how cliquish Buffalo people can be... staring down new comers, but never going over to talk to them or include them. Guys size each other up based on looks and tend to ignore those who aren't members of their gym or who don't fit the "jock" or "twink" categories.
Meeting people from online isn't much easier. Profiles are very blunt about the high physical standards many men (many.. not all) have. Here are a few quotes from random local profiles I have copied and pasted:
* if i don't get back at you, either you're old, fat, sissy or ugly.
* Absolutely NO ONE over 30. Message me and you'll be blocked. (this person is 25 years old)
* I go to the gym and so should you. Don't bother me otherwise.
* Mainly here just looking at the hot guys, I might be interested in hanging out if you fit my criteria.
Certainly I believe there needs to be a physical attraction in a potential boyfriend/girlfriend. I know we don't go 100% on personality, but come on! Profiles like this are so easy to come by that it took me less than five minutes to come across the examples above. So I'm thinking that I've been perpetually single and that's the way it's going to stay.
I don't fit well into any of the neat little sub categories of the gay "culture" and while I am grateful for my share of friends, I find myself hoping for something more (that damn hope!). There are many nights when I feel very much isolated and alone... and sometimes being in a large crowd like the pride parade drives that loneliness home even more.
So while I do support the idea of Gay Pride month and the equality it stands for (in theory), I find that I personally do not feel I have much to be proud of. So if any of you out there feel being gay is a choice, I have to ask you in all seriousness.. would you choose this?