The sun is shining. The air is warm. This is the seasons for baseball and, soon, the end of the school year and . . . pride parades. As a proud gay Jew, I do. not. like. pride parades.
I see pride in one’s sexuality as comparable to having pride because of having one hand as dominant or having a specific hair colour. We all have a sexuality and we all have a dominant hand. Being proud of being born normal is nothing all that special. I do think that gay men and women should be proud when they overcome ignorance and bigotry, but that is not the message conveyed by these parades. In their current embodiment, pride parades do more harm than good to the fight for gay equality— especially the political battle for civil rights.
The scantily clad men and women, the blatant displays of promiscuity and the drag queens/kings (by the way, not all gay) do not evidence a community with enough self respect to qualify for these rights. These attempts at “pride” speak more of a community of immature men and women eager to flaunt their hedonistic tendencies more than they exemplify a group of functioning adults ready and able to contribute to society as a whole.
As a gay Orthodox Jew, I present myself to the world in a Tzanua, modest, manner. I do not flaunt my sexuality because doing so would suggest that I am nothing more than my basic sexual instincts and desires. To qualify that statement: this does not mean that I am opposed to the occasional public display of affection or that I think there are no situations where opening discussing issues that face gay people is appropriate. The former speaks to an emotional connection and the latter is a necessary educational tool. However, I firmly disagree with the “I’m here, I’m queer” mentality. This attitude works to further the depiction of the gay man or woman as “the other” rather than promote an inclusive Kehila, community. I see the proper code of conduct as “I’m here, I so happen to be queer.”
Rather than highlighting the things about us that make us different to thrust them in other peoples’ faces, we should stress our commonalities. Doing so would have the effect of removing the negative stigmas attached to being gay as well as the label of “the other” that is still firmly affixed to the gay identity. We must show the ignorant people around us that to us, just like to them, our sexuality is a mere fragment of the totality of our personalities. Making that change in the world would be an accomplishment worth being proud of and worth celebrating.