A Happy Homosexual

“Show me a happy homosexual and I’ll show you a gay corpse.”

That was the summation of the queer experience circa-1970, voiced by the character Michael in milestone movie “Boys in the Band”. Often cited as the first major film to honestly depict gay life, the realities it showcased mirrored the times. The characters were generally sad, substance addicted, and sexually compartmentalized. Though immortalized in queer cinema history, the film left the impression that being gay was rather a drag.

June is gay pride month. It’s the time of year when those famous drag queen-laden parades and rainbow-saturated marches happen. It’s when LGBT people come together in a public way to declare with our presence that we are not ashamed of who we were created to be. Anyone who wonders why we gays insist on having these events should remember the quote above. Pride is how we fight back against a dejected self-narrative. It’s our anti-drag.

As “it’s gotten better”, some are questioning why we need to continue such events. Many have suggested that pride augments the very thing we are trying to diminish—our differences. The simple fact is, people are different; and that’s not bad!  In the past year, there have been an alarming number of publicly reported suicides among LGBT teens. Flying a rainbow flag may seem frivolous, but to the 13 year old kid who happens by a march, that flag could end up being a life line. Sometimes, you just need to know you aren’t alone. Pride gives us visibility.

Variety is what fills life with intrigue and meaning. If we don’t celebrate our diversity, though, someone will end up vilifying it. Remember that “kill the gays bill” in Uganda I wrote about several posts back? It appears poised to become law after nearly two years of international wrangling. In the wake of a deteriorating economy and under the rule of a dictator, a wave of “homosexual hysteria” has swept across the East African nation. Gays and lesbians are being blamed for the downfall of their society, an idea promulgated by several prominent leaders on the American religious right. Being gay is already a statutory crime, but that apparently isn’t enough. When hateful ideologies get transferred to countries with extreme poverty and limited access to education, there can be dire consequences. If it does indeed become law, gay people in the country will be executed—and their straight allies will face severe prison sentences if they voice their support for LGBT individuals. Gay corpses and imprisoned heteros are the consequences of being invisible.

The good news for those of us on the range is that we can publicly and visibly assemble without fear of such extreme government persecution. A lot has changed for the American homosexual since Michael’s band of boys first pranced across the silver screen. In the years following, LGBT people have come out and become important forces in local communities and economies. In fact, some of the most successful U.S. cities have the most progressive laws and accepting attitudes on the issue of gay rights. No longer are we sidelined into lives of desperation, secrecy, and unhappiness. In 2011, and yes in Kansas, gay truly can be synonymous with happy.

This June, embrace pride. Gay, straight, bisexual, lesbian, or transgendered, all of us should celebrate the totality of who we are as individuals. When Wichita’s pride festival happens June 24th and 25th, exercise your right to assemble. Do it for our brother and sisters who can’t a world away.  Do it to show that being gay isn’t a drag!

Show me a happy homosexual and I’ll show you a thriving community.

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