Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Gay Pride Season Is Here; But So What?

Image taken from Harringay Online
Oh well, it's that time of year again. A lot of gay people will be sneaking out to their friends' house or to a corner bar or club to dress up and wear all manner of make-up to camouflage themselves and then parade. I have no qualms.

Perhaps, my qualms are rather that Pride events achieve nothing as the name goes. We still lack pride in ourselves because most of our community; in fact, the majority, still lacks self-confidence to stand up and respond calmly and articulately about sexuality or themselves.

Perhaps, my other qualms are that regardless of the noise in cities like London (where I live), Pride is still an affair that happens within less than a square mile of a vast city of nearly 8 million people thus reaching less than 5% of the population since majority of the audience that see it are tourists.

In fact, the crux of the matter is that Pride is so out of tune and step in developed countries with protective laws, that the event has become a mere waste of resources, time and traffic space. Why bother?

From the story I heard from wonderful older role models like Peter Tatchell, I imagine that Pride events of today are mere jamboree, where egocentric, self-obssessed 'fit' men show off their 6 packs and live out their fantasy of a world that is so good, gay people are very free to live their lives... yea, just that one day.

But where is the pride? Just in banners? make-ups? indecent exposures? Loud deafening music and loads of alcohol? The pride in handing out condoms or claiming HIV belongs to gay men only? What pride? No, dont get me wrong, all of the above is tolerable but only if in moderation and with balanced disposition. Please read patiently to the end to understand what I mean.

Probably, I am the only one who hasnt heard the message or objective of pride, if any exists, that is? Because in reality, Pride events leaves nothing to be desired by the people whom we should be speaking to and trying to answer. Because practically, most Pride events do not speak to the man or woman who need the conviction for equality and respect.

Of course, so many people, even in 'liberal' London are still homophobic. Also, so many more are buried in ignorance. Not of their making but of the ills they've been fed through culture and religion. And what Pride is not doing to either group is reaching them and directly speaking to their wanton ignorance and and alleviating their blind mythology. And it will not reach them because most of such people do not attend Pride anyway.

But there is life outside of London and Pride happens in other places in somewhat different models. Some of them in smaller towns makes more sense. Yet, most are carried out with no real lasting message other than just another jamboree. Local Councils spend vital funds to prop up these Pride events just to avoid being baggered and labelled homophobic. Those funds would achieve better if put into general services, for the homeless (some of them are gays and lesbian too), for the elderly, fostered children, local facilities, etc. Or even if, give these monies to charities that serve LGBT people without prejudice to enhance their services.

This year's World Pride in London said its theme is "Today London, Tomorrow The World". Beggars belief that someone cooked up that phrase and a bunch of people bought it. What  does that mean and what sense is in it? "Today London?" How? and What? "Tomorrow The World"? Again I ask, How? What and even When? and Where? It simply showcases people living in their fantasy and ignorance too. What "tomorrow the world" please? What will happen in the world and how is World Pride making that happen?

We must go back to the drawing room. Commercial consumerism has blinded us and left us converting far less people that are ready to join us. We must stop this imploding and begin to reach out in a new way. A way to engage with those who are ready to and more ways to stand tall in what matters than just in nudity.

Surely, it is the right of anyone to walk about nude but there are many other avenues we are neglecting [to explore]. While our 6-pack (abs in the correct sense of the word) will attract some people, there are far many more people out there who many other things and not nude fit men will attract. From being active in building bridges across the community through participatory and responsible involvements, to weaning ourselves from the sense of special cases to ordinary members of society and reclaiming what exactly belongs to us. We can influence many other people through discussion and listening; through accepting that people have the right to be afraid of what they dont understand and explaining it to them and many other ways.

We have artistes, writers, doctors, lawyers, cleaners, cab-drivers, etc. We must pursue our redemption and respect through all these means other than just float and clanging noises. The porn and nudity represent a very atomic fraction of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Trans (LGBT) people. It is time for our Pride to take a different approach; a bold one.

It is time to build our LGBT community to reach out to the wider society. The former will be useless without the later and the later would be absolutely unachievable without the former. If I may borrow the character, Jesus' sentence and tactics, "the harvest is plenty, but the workmen are few." We need to prepare our own to go out into the field and begin the practical outreach, through personality and career and other skills.

Wasting scarce resources on parties and carnival only bring flash-in-the-pan moment of joy. For a handful of people that attend Pride, that is their only day of having Pride. But we know the truth is because most of such people are not equipped to keep waxing strong - let alone stronger - for the one year gap before the next Pride. So some will leave Pride and back into their scared-self; others will face homophobia of molestation, abuse, bullying, discrimination and all manner of negativity [they'll encounter]. And at that moment of loneliness, the confidence to uphold and use their pride will be missing; because it is not Pride. Do not blame them, but blame our party-mongering, jamboree-hosting community orgnaizers who do not see beyond their toes.

We will have Pride events, in our cities, countries and continents. Yet majority of what is the LGBT population in the entire world have no peace, security, assurance, let alone pride. Dont get me wrong, this is no kill-joy, but a call for a thought.

We the LGBT people across the world must pause and ask ourselves the following questions;
  • What is Pride?
  • What message does it leave?
  • What legacy does it uphold, continue and leave after the parties?
  • Does is really represent the diversity within the LGBT community?
  • Is it very welcoming and not intimidating to some of us?
  • Is the most focus on body exhibition and sexual-leaning serving the wider community? 
  • What pride does it leave in our community afterwards?
  • And how long does it last?

If we have no tangible, coherent, objective and straight-forward answers to these questions, then our next destination should be the drawing room.

As you celebrating and show off, please think about the above points and look deeper if any of them is being achieved. And also, ask yourself how and what difference [or different new thing] you'd bring that day into the society through your pride.

Let our Pride leave us proud.

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