When I first came out to myself in 1981, I had no idea of the significance of the month. I'm not certain of the exact date, but all I can remember was it was during June.
Over the years, I've been to celebrations in different cities, even making a pilgrimage to San Francisco in 2001 to mark 25 years being out. One thing I've noticed is how much they've changed from the first historical marches. They've turned into neighborhood festivals with face painters and beer gardens and turkey legs and financial planners looking to sell you their services and local churches who have QUILTBAG congregants and booths where you can have your picture taken in an oversize easy chair so you can look all Edith Ann (kids! Ask your parents!)
And I wonder where these festivals will be in another 20 or 30 years.
When Pride began after the Stonewall Riots, they were a call to political action and public recognition. Nowadays, they're more of a public celebration, and I wonder if much of the call to political action gets lost in the vendors hawking lemonade shake-ups and rainbow-patterned oven mitts. True, Minnesota has much to celebrate this year with the passage of the same-sex marriage act but there are still many states where it's perfectly legal to fire somebody for being QUILTBAG. (Never mind I think the current institution of marriage is truly fucked and needs to be overhauled before allowing anybody to marry, and that the same-sex marriage debate is seriously misguided when there are still states where QUILTBAG people can still be fired and denied housing, and we need to getting that fixed before we should worry about getting married, but that's another rant for another time.)
The tenor has certainly changed since I first came out. Around that time, an infection was starting to hit the gay male populations of many large American cities, finally getting the acronym GRID. Around the time I went to my first Pride Parade in Chicago, people were getting fired-up over the lack of concern and action from the US government so there was a certain sense of anger. Since then, the parades and celebrations I've gone to have, again, been more neighborhood block party unless there's been a major issue that's scheduled to be voted on at the following election.
I know I'm not one to lecture others on political (in)action. I'm not out in the fields ringing doorbells or handing out flyers or making phone calls on a regular basis; I'm lucky to get the occasional hair up my ass to make blog and forum posts online about things that gripe my cookies. I know there's much to be celebrated every June but when the day comes we have full, equal status in the US, what's going to happen at the Pride Celebrations? Will there even be parades and neighborhood festivals? Once the younger generations become the burnt-out old farts of tomorrow, where will we be?