It’s Pride Month, a time for the LGBTQ+ community—an amalgam of communities—to assert, “Here I am.” Yet “pride” carries a more nuanced meaning than many people realize.
To begin, I’m the father of three sons—one straight, one trans, one gay (married to my gay son-in-law). I accept all of them for who they are and love them unconditionally. Am I also proud of them? Ah, that nuance.
My pride in my children reflects not their gender identities and who they love but their development as human beings.
A statement such as, “I’m gay (trans, Black, Asian, Jewish, Irish, Native American, name it) and I’m proud” can easily be misunderstood. Such pride doesn’t indicate that one’s group is better than any other. As such, I’m not “proud” to be Jewish because I place Jews at the top of the ethnic-religious pyramid. I was born a Jew and live as one, matters of fate and choice. But I’ve never been ashamed of being a Jew, and I’m not about to make myself invisible.
So, Pride Week doesn’t propose that LGBTQ folks are better than straight, cisgender people. It celebrates the Stonewall Uprising in June 1969 when New York City police raided a gay bar whose patrons fought back. Pride Week says, “I’m out of the closet and staying out.”
Is Pride Week still necessary? Doesn’t it antagonize some people? Shouldn’t we lay the past aside?
Jews remember the Holocaust, although the death camps were liberated in 1945. The centennial of the 1921 massacre of Blacks in Tulsa’s Greenwood neighborhood has widely, and justly, been noted. And African-Americans honor Juneteenth (tomorrow), our newest national holiday, marking the 1865 reading of the Emancipation Proclamation to former slaves in Texas.
There’s a sound reason such terrible deeds must continually be acknowledged.
Many people find it easy to forget the past. Out of sight, out of mind. A few years ago, a Lyft driver in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, remarked as we passed old cabins on an antebellum plantation, “That’s where the helpused to live.”
Denying the past makes it easier to relive it.
A friend—white-Christian—has become increasingly uncomfortable in 21st-century America. The white-dominant culture in which he grew up is changing rapidly. Check that. Has changed—and will continue to do so. Yet he’s no racist and has Jewish, Black, Asian and Latino friends. It’s understandable that many—most?—people find it more comfortable to live with those similar to them.
There is, however, a difference between choosing where you live and with whom you engage, and preventing others from living where they wish and with whom. We cannot deny others the right to choose that we claim for ourselves.
As to people who refuse to associate with LBGTQ+ or ethnic-minority folks, no problem. Just don’t block our way, impinge on our freedom. This refusal to surrender equality defines the “pride” in Pride Month.
Looking back—I’ll soon be 77—America remains imperfect. I will always support my children’s right—and mine—to define themselves and not be harried or harmed by those fearing the demise of their own view of American culture.
Yet America has come a long way. That’s something of which we can all be proud.
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