Pride Repost: Why We So Gay?
It’s that time of year again when Gay men, Lesbians, Bisexuals, Transgender, Queer, Questioning and other folk take to the streets of their respective cities for their annual Gay Pride parades and celebrations. Once you’ve been to one or twenty of them, it’s somewhat easier to bypass these events, to leave them to those just coming into some greater awareness of who they are as loving and sexual human beings. In my case, anyway, it’s easy to decide that you’ve been there, done that, and in the process, to forget the profound significance of these occasions.
I was more or less coasting along in that mindset until a good friend who’s writing an article about this year’s Pride event in Denver, asked me to provide a quote about why Pride is important to me. I confess that my first response was something along the lines of “Eh.” But as I started to give the idea my attention, I realized I was selling myself and my ‘tribe’ short by not offering a more thoughtful take on the subject.
As I began to think more about what Pride means to the GLBTQ, etc., community–even what it’s meant to me over the years, I remembered–and decided to re-post an earlier message from the Shower Team–about why those of us who either literally or figuratively fly the Rainbow flag, choose to wear our colors out proudly. Why do make such a big deal about this piece of who we are? Why does everyone else make such a big deal about this piece of who we are? Or, as Comedian Margaret Cho says when making fun of her Korean mother’s repeated questioning of a gay friend or relative, “Why we so gay?”
The first thing we want you to hear is that you do not always choose all that specifically the details of your physical experience. That is, when you are deciding to come forth in physical experience again, you may not necessarily give that much attention to—or really even care that much—about the details. In other words, you may not really care all that much whether you are male or female, gay or straight, black or brown or white . . . What you really care about is the nature of the experience that awaits you and the opportunities that it will present to you for joy and expansion.
You do, however, come forth with varying degrees of specificity around your intentions for the nature of the life experience you will create. And there are those among you who most definitely do come forth with particularly powerful intentions for an experience characterized by great freedom and for a life experience that is truly unique and forceful in its nonconformity. You often do come forth determined not to be subject to the whims or expectations or desires of others but rather to be a powerfully free and self-determining individual, charting his or her own course, answering only to yourself . . . and drawn to the idea of being teachers of extraordinary individuality.
Sometimes when you come forth with those specific and powerful desires for individuality and for nonconformity and freedom, you do find yourselves creating a reality where part of the opportunity for that freedom and nonconformity appears in the form of a sexual orientation or sexual preferences that set you apart from the ‘norm’.
But more than that, what we really want you to understand is that your overriding, always prevailing, primary motivation for your life experience is the sheer joy of that experience. And what we would most like for you to consider as you give thought to your questions about why you come forth as gay men or lesbians is that you are always—always—going for the joy of that experience—and there is immeasurable joy for you in that experience if you will open yourself up to it.
What often happens, however, is that you begin to give your focus and your attention to all the less-than-gay aspects of your gay life experience. You come forth with this powerful intention to experience freedom and nonconformity and the joy of creating your own, customized and unique life experience, and then you start to get hung up and tripped up over all the things you begin to observe that are uncomfortable or displeasing to you.
You make this decision to come forth as a freedom-loving, freedom-seeking, nonconforming individual, and then as your experience unfolds, you begin to notice more and more the ways that others have difficulty with your freedom or your nonconformity. You begin to observe more and more the discomfort of others or the disapproval of others and the ways that others do not accept or like or agree with you . . . and as you give more and more attention to all that, you get more and more bogged down in your own disappointment or frustration for the ways that others are not responding to you.
Your experience can become anything but ‘gay’ as you give more of your focus to the ways others perceive you or respond to you . . . and the delights, the joys, the wonderful satisfactions and fulfillments of this ‘gay’ life experience that you’ve created as a direct result of your intentions for freedom, get lost in your feelings of frustration for the ways that you are not being embraced or welcomed by those you didn’t want to be like in the first place.
We understand that you want to be loved and accepted for the unique beings that you are—and that it is often painful for you to recognize that the very uniqueness that you came forth to experience can become a source of frustration for you as you begin to observe the ways that it separates you from the masses. But what we want you to understand is that you didn’t come forth planning or expecting or even wanting to be accepted and approved of by the masses. What you wanted was an experience of extraordinary freedom and possibility and creativity—and the unspeakable joy of that kind of experience.
What you wanted is the essence of the experience of being ‘gay’ and what we want so much for you to understand and accept is the joy available to you in that experience when you take your attention off of those who disapprove or who do not understand and instead, focus your attention on the uniquely joyful and creative and nonconforming life experience that is available to you.
You are powerful teachers of the freedom to create a life experience that is based entirely on what YOU want and who YOU really are. You are lights in the world that lead the way for truly leading edge experiences and as such you are leaders in the best sense of that word. It is only when you forget that intention for freedom and that intention for the joyful experiencing of your unique selves that you lose the joy—the sheer gayety—that you came here to give yourself.
In truth, you often become very focused on needing or requiring others to give you what you must learn to give to yourself: the recognition that you are bright and blessed beings who came forth deliberately and intentionally in order to create a life experience of unique and expansive joy. You must find your way to being able to say—and mean it when you say it—that “I love my GAY self” . . . for only when you can look upon your life experience here with the love that you intended to feel when you came forth, only then will you begin to truly come into the fullness of the joy of that experience—the joy you knew was available to you, the joy that is every gay man or woman’s gift to themselves for being who they really are.
It’s so easy to forget about the exhilaration that I felt when I first came out . . . that intoxicating feeling of finally being free to be who I was—at least until someone came along to remind me that they were also free to dislike or disapprove of who I was.
It’s easy to see and feel nothing but the ways our world can still be pretty inhospitable place for those of us who love and desire members of our own gender. Newspapers and newscasts are full of excuses for not feeling so ‘gay’ about being gay.
That’s why reminders about the freedom of this experience—freedom that actually called us forth in the first place—feel like such a shot in the arm, like a rainbow flag waving in the liberating breeze—like three snaps and the flick of a feather boa in the face of whatever might be feeling like oppression or rejection.
If we came forth as gay men and women for the purpose of feeling free . . . then free is what I want to choose to be—free of my needs to please or satisfy or explain myself to others, free to be the me I planned to be when I decided to dive back into the ocean of life.
I can’t think of a better reason for deciding to keep going gayly forward.