Monday, July 8, 2013

What are you so proud of?

I am not proud to be gay.

In fact, the concept of ‘gay pride’ has always kind of baffled me. It is my understanding that the community at large would like the people of the world to believe that, to quote Lady Gaga, we were just “born this way.” It’s in the genes. Part of the original blueprint. A stipulation in the contract that my soul signed before entering this body. By no means is it a choice.

So what does this mean in regards to pride?

Having a physical and sexually driven attraction to someone of the same sex is just as much a part of me as my brown hair, my fair skin, my vocal register, my height and my propensity to have pimples on my shoulders rather than my face. These are just a few items plucked from a long list of inborn qualities over which I have little to no control. Am I proud about any of these things? No. I have not done anything to be proud of. Regardless of my conscious choices, they just are.

By definition, to be proud is to have a “feeling of pleasure or satisfaction over something regarded as highly honorable or creditable to oneself.” This implies, as far as I see it, that to be proud one must first do something to be proud of. Honor is earned through conscious action. Credit is given when due. True pride cannot exist for something you have not done.

In order to be proud of my homosexuality, being gay would have to be a choice. Are you beginning to understand my problem with the concept? We can’t have our fabulous cake and eat it, too. It’s just not how it works.

So what am I proud of?

I graduated with my Bachelor of Arts in Comparative Religious Studies. There was a lot of shit that went down in those four and a half years at University, and I came close to giving up more than once. But I didn’t. I chose to study something that I find fascinating, I worked my ass off, and I am proud.

I can make very large bubbles in the sink with dishwashing soap. It took me a long time to master the techniques for proper bubble formation. I practiced, I learned, and I am proud.

I am an actor, a singer and a storyteller. While it may seem like something I was born to do, there was a time when I had severe, nauseating, debilitating stage fright. Auditions still bring out the nerves in me. They probably will until I die. But I worked through it, I overcame and I am proud.

I can walk in stiletto boots like a beast! And after enough practice, I’ve even gotten pretty damn good at dancing in them, too. That shit is difficult, it hurts so much the next day, and I am proud.

I do what I can to keep myself and my sexual partners safe. There’s a lot of scary stuff out there, and it doesn’t take much to get stuck with something irritating or potentially fatal for life. I get tested regularly, I practice safe sex and I am proud.

I stand up for what I believe is right in the face of adversity. As a stage manager, I battle with the owners of the company to keep my actors safe. As a gay student, I stood before a student government body and called them to account for their failures to support the LGBTQ community on campus. As a friend, I will support you wholeheartedly and still call you out when you’ve done something stupid. I’ve built up the courage to meet someone’s eye when confronting them, I’ve developed the strength to support my convictions, and I am proud.

All of these examples share a common thread. I play an active role in what it is I feel pride for.
So no, friends, I am not proud to be gay. The credit to my homosexuality lies somewhere in my genetic coding. There’s nothing I find honorable about my innate inclination towards penises. It is an utter impossibility for me to even force myself to feel pride for a single facet of who I was born to be.

If anything, the term ‘gay pride’ can only rightfully be applied to any progressive action you choose to take that makes the natural state of homosexuality more accepted at large. Be proud that you find the strength to tell someone they can’t talk down to you for something you can’t change about yourself. Be proud of the times when you have a heartfelt conversation that changes someone’s outlook on the gay community. Be proud of the progress you help to create when you get involved with and support marriage equality legislation. Be proud on the day that the legislation formally becomes law. Be proud of the first steps you take outside of your own personal closet, because choosing to be public about who you are is most assuredly pride-worthy.

Be proud of the courage you’ve built to defy a world that calls you an abomination and say to them “I will not be broken by the likes of you.”

And one day in the hopefully not too distant future, when we achieve the equality we fight for so ardently, when your sexuality is commonly accepted to be as natural as the color of your eyes, we can put to rest this confusing concept of ‘gay pride.’ It will fade into the glossaries of history text books in high school libraries only to be referenced when they study the advancement of LGBT rights in the world.

Until then, my friends, we can save being proud for our accomplishments and the choices we make. Happy Monday Fun Day.

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