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Monday, June 27, 2005

Re: More on Pride

Posted by on June 27 at 10:55 AM

The parade is also a perfect metaphor for the state of the gay movement in this area — politically, culturally, creatively. Which is the intent, I think. So what did this year’s parade show the gay movement here to be?

Strong in numbers, weak in new ideas, and more interested in commercialism than political activism. And you can spin this both ways. You can say it’s sad, the sign of a community whose priorities (sex, beer, and cupcakes, judging from the floats) are way out of synch with its needs, and whose creativity is atrophying in direct proportion to its increasing comfort. Or you can say it’s progress. After all, isn’t the point of these parades to some day arrive at a cultural moment when we can obsess about sex, beer, and cupcakes, instead of obsessing about persecuting moralists, anti-gay laws, and scorn from the culture at large?

Obviously we’re not at that point yet, even though a lot of people this weekend seemed to want to believe we are. But we’re far closer than we used to be. And this is where the power of marching through downtown, as a metaphor, falls apart, I think. Marching through downtown would have been a powerful metaphor for not being ghettoized and for demanding respect from the establishment — in 1979, or 1982, or even 1995. But marching through downtown in 2005 to show the establishment that we’re not scared to buy cupcakes? That’s a metaphor for “nothing left to prove,” and if that’s where we’re at, then why march in the first place?

If, as it seems, the Pride Parade is on the cusp of evolving (devolving?) from a political act into a Mardi-Gras-like celebration of sexual freedom and booze (the straight guy walking near Volunteer Park on Saturday wearing beads and shouting “show me your tits” seemed, in his apparent confusion about which celebration he was at, a good metaphor for how ready the culture is to see the two as indistinguishable) then I say keep it on Capitol Hill, where you don’t have to walk so far to get to a gay bar.