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Four Decades Along the Rainbow Road

Monday, June 05, 2023

Pride and Prejuduce

Seattle Mariners star Julio Rodriguez displaying his Pride for the LGBTQ
community; sign on the right not so much.

I am old enough to remember when LGBTQ Pride celebrations were mocked by opponents mainly because of the attire or lack thereof worn by the participants. Before social media took off, images were cherry-picked to illustrate the tawdriest outfits and flamboyant costumes. These photos were used to raise money by right wing religious groups and others to push their anti-LGBTQ agenda in an effort to stop the legalization of same-sex marriages, adoptions and other LGBTQ rights.

Now it seems that the opponents of Pride celebrations are not confined to religious institutions but by the far-right cluster of everyday people who are simply homo/bi/transphobic. They don’t want to see our community period; we should return to the closet so that their sensibilities are not shaken.

Of course, extreme right wing homophobic politicians cynically have seized on the bigotry in the land to win voters. They bundle their hateful rhetoric under the vague term “anti-woke.” They demean drag shows, conflating drag queens with transgender folks in an effort to frighten parents. By the way, the “anti-woke” b.s. is not restricted to LGBTQ folks, but it also is aimed at people of color, immigrants and other marginalized people.

With each year, the annual ritual of holding LGBTQ Pride festivals and parades all over the world is gaining more media coverage and popularity.  These celebrations have been taking place for over 50 years since the first one in New York City marked the one-year anniversary of the Stonewall uprising when patrons in the Greenwich Village underground bar fought back against yet another police raid.

Pride, as it is simply called, has had different meanings to different people. To me it is affirming that I will love who I want.  I also acknowledge the adversity that LGBTQ people have had to endure throughout their lives, and that we are proud that we have survived though, sadly, not everyone has.

The availability and the anonymity of the internet with its chat platforms, groups and topical pages reveal the bigotry that is still out there despite recent progress in the LGBTQ community.

Nothing is more obvious as to the extent of homo/bi/transphobia on sports fan pages. Nothing triggers these people (overwhelmingly male) when a professional baseball team announces their annual Pride Nights or Nights Out events or a hockey team wishing its fans Happy Pride Month. It gets ugly and stupid all at once.

In response to a team’s recognition of Pride, the comments on these pages typically reflect three categories to mask (not that well) the individuals’ homo/bi/transphobia:

1.     We shouldn’t mix politics and sports.

Well, you can’t always take politics out of sports. For example, there was the big-time flap over boxing champion Muhammad Ali’s virulently strong opposition to the Vietnam War. Donald Trump made political hay over football quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s kneeling during the National Anthem to protest racial injustice at the hands of the police.

For my part, when the “don’t mix politics and sports” refrain comes up, I reply, “People said the same thing when Jackie Robinson signed with the Brooklyn Dodgers.” And now his uniform number 42 had been permanently retired by all major league baseball clubs, and he is honored every year on April 15, the date of his first game.

Chicago Cubs pitcher Marcus Stroman tweeting his support of LGBTQ Pride.

Frankly, I don’t see being LGBTQ as political. It’s who we are. Period. The opponents sounding off against us make it political.

 Just stick to baseball.

Do these people urge the team to “stick to baseball” when there is a breast cancer awareness night or a military night or Mother’s Day or other similar events? Not hardly. Team uniforms conform to these special days—Camo hats for military nights; pink bats, wristbands and caps for Mother’s Day, etc. Nobody is offended. To my knowledge, teams have not been pressured to wear rainbow uniforms during Pride Night games. It’s total nonsense.   

 There should be a “straight pride.”

This is the most comical category, and you will clearly note the absurdity. The notion that straight folks need to demonstrate their pride is ludicrous, and that’s being mild.  Every day is straight pride. 

LGBTQ Pride, as I indicated, is a celebration of who we are and enduring the myriad manifestations of hatred directed towards our community.  Straight people have not had to grapple with being straight in our society. Consider:

• No straight person has been fired from their job or not hired for being straight.

• No straight person has been kicked out of an apartment or disapproved of a lease because he or she is straight.

• No straight person has been assaulted or killed for being straight.

• No straight person has to hide their sexuality from family members, classmates, clergy, co-workers, bosses, friends and neighbors.

• Straight people are not committing suicide because of prejudice against their being straight.

Let’s be real. A few blatantly admit their bigotry because they safely hide behind an abstract identity. But others try to clumsily conceal their homo/bi/transphobia by using arguments contained in the above three categories. It doesn’t work. 


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing what needs to be said.