You think of Gay Pride weekend, you think of sun. Rainbow flags. Rainbow everything. Glitter. Body parts on display. Abs built over the last three months on a rigorous diet of protein shakes, red bull, and the occasional splurged skittle. You think of bulging packages barely contained in ultra sheer bikini briefs, bouncing to thumping EDM atop a feather-clad parade float. You think of heavy drinking. The kind of shots you forgot you took until you notice the distinctly neon hue of your pee the next morning.
Now, perhaps more than at any other point in history, we have good reason to be proud. Another day, another state grants us marriage equality. We can now serve openly in the military. Utter the word “faggot” today in America, you lose your TV gig and they pull your corporate sponsorship. Gay couple holding hands walking through the mall? Nobody really gives much of a shit anymore, do they? It is unquestionable; we have passed the tipping point in this country. That once-fervent coalition of adversaries—they’re crumbling like fossils.
With the world’s attention fixed on our fight for equal rights, there is a voice of concern emerging within the gay community, asking: Are they getting our good side? This vodka-soaked carnival of hedonism we call Pride; does it only serve to reinforce the damning stereotypes, and re-marginalize us in a society that is finally, after much convincing, ready to welcome us to the mainstream? Should we make Pride more… family friendly?
What would it look like? We cover up. We tone down the ratchetness two to three notches. We hide the old guy with the leather harness and zero gauge nipple rings. The straight, conservative, suburban families show up, have a lovely day, and leave, saying “You see, Honey? They’re not freaks. They’re normal, just like us.”
We want to create an inclusive, welcoming atmosphere where all feel comfortable attending; in theory. In reality, it’s like cooking dinner for your extended family. Your sister-in-law is gluten-free now, cousin Charlie is allergic to dairy, and Aunt Rose “doesn’t like it too spicy”. Try to please everyone, you end up with bland food that no one really likes; a sad semblance of what you had initially hoped to create. There too comes a point where we begin to compromise the true spirit of Pride.
Ultimately, gay pride is about freedom of sexual identity. We don’t need to prove to the straight world that our sexuality is normal like theirs. We need to dismantle the very notion of normal sexuality as something that anyone can or should lay claim to. Here we are; the people who have been ridiculed, threatened, beaten, and killed for our sexual orientation throughout human history. Now we turn around and own that sexuality with confidence, and yes, even flaunt it. If we can do that, anyone can. Gay, straight, bi, tri, in-between, or none of the above; whoever you are, whatever you’re into, you too are worthy of pride.
Pre-order Your Helix Pride shirt here. [Ships June 27th]