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A Question of Pride
Twin Cities Pride has never excited me, to be honest. I'm very conflicted on the issue of Pride Celebrations. My brain understands it as a need to celebrate who we are, a day to express ourselves fully and without shame the way we live our lives. We need to recognize and honor all the progress that has been made by pioneering individuals, and to confront the challenges still ahead by embracing each other as a community. It's all very huge and affirming and important, says my brain.

But my heart isn't in it. I hate crowds to begin with, and the idea of being swallowed up as another faceless body by a throng of colorful people - people with TRUE pride in their hearts - it just doesn't make with the good-time feelings for me. I am 100% not ashamed of who I am or who I love. But there's something about the Pride gatherings that make me feel less like an individual. As if by participating, other parts of me are being stripped or ignored or devalued. I know that's not anyone's intent.

Come to think of it, I feel similar in crowds of pagans or crowds of gamers. I guard my individuality so much that I have trouble relating to a group except on the most cerebral of levels. "I'm a gamer!" "I'm a pagan!" I'm a label.

I'm also selfish, which I think is at the root of the issue.

Comments appreciated. Even if they are chastising.

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For me there's something about being a member of a queer group that seems a little strange. I'm not trying to knock how others feel about it, but for me, personally, it's just really weird to show up to some sort of small-group event where the only thing you might have in common with the other people there is who, in an extremely general sense, you love.

The idea of a large, citywide gathering for some reason doesn't bother me as much. But I kind of freaked out when I stopped by the alumni version of QU at my 5 year reunion. Something about not quite being anonymous enough, maybe. Something about having to voice my experiences, and feeling not queer enough to "count."

This doesn't really happen to me with (most) other small groups, because usually they are more closely interest-based...gaming...paganism...I feel like there's something to actually talk about in those cases.

Not sure if this is similar to your deal or not. We're currently thinking about going to Atlanta Pride this year, in a sort of offhanded "maybe if we feel like it" sort of way. But going to the campus LGBT center (especially by myself) makes me nervous.

Pride was great when I first came out. I'd never seen so many queer folks in one place. I had no idea so many of us were around. I stuffed my bag with informational brochures and organizational contacts. This is a huge reason why Pride continues to have merit in the community: it is a resource for the newly out, the newly arrived, the newly whatever. And for a lot of people, Pride weekend is their only chance all year to connect with other GLBT folks. Not all of us live in the big, bad city where there's a queer on every corner. I've seen people at Pride from all corners of the state, and from WI and IA, too. And for a lot of them, this weekend is their one chance to be open and proud and unashamed of who they are and whom they love.

As if by participating, other parts of me are being stripped or ignored or devalued....I guard my individuality so much that I have trouble relating to a group except on the most cerebral of levels.

Ah, here you've hit on an interesting paradox. I understand what you're saying about other parts of you being ignored or devalued, but, let's face it: you do that every time you do just about anything that includes other human beings. When you go to your job, nobody much gives a shit that you're queer or Pagan or that you act or have dogs. They just want a worker. When you're in a play, how much does anyone really care about your job? Every activity we participate in elevates one aspect of ourselves above others. Only one person in the world can truly address all your aspects. You. It's fine to occasionally say, "Today I'm going to focus more on my queerness than on my Paganness." It doesn't make you any less Pagan; it just means that's not what you're focusing on today. The only real danger is allowing that one label to define you, to the exclusion of the other parts of you.

But then there's this thing about individuality. And, I hate to be the bitch who says things like this, but you're not that individual. Nobody is. Yes, you certainly have aspects that are unique to you, as do we all, and you have a unique combination of aspects, as do we all. But, you know, everything's been done.

What has been will be again,
what has been done will be done again;
there is nothing new under the sun.

10 Is there anything of which one can say,
"Look! This is something new"?
It was here already, long ago;
it was here before our time.

That's from Ecclesiastes. Which was written, what, 3,000 years ago? And even then, nobody was that unique.

I'm not saying this to poke a massive pin into your balloon. I don't want to be like everybody else, either. But I acknowledge that, in many ways, I am exactly like everybody else. And sometimes that's an amazing, connecting realization to let myself have, and it's a realization I often get to have at Pride. It's also great fun to go to something like Pride and realize, Hey, we may be all at least superficially alike, but we're all different in other ways. That diversity-within-community can be a beautiful thing.

Now, all that said: your hatred of crowds is, I think, the deciding factor here, as it's an obstacle far less easily surmounted than a fear of being ununique. There's also the fact that Pride gets more commercial and less communal every year: less of the informational brochures and community contacts that I came away with and more of the new line of queer tv on Bravo! and the...I don't even know what the fuck Target and Best Buy are doing here! That's why I struggle with whether I want to go back. At this point, it's almost entirely habit. And you know what they say about habits.

Getting blood stains out of them is damned near impossible.

I struggle with the joining versus not joining thing, which isn't the same, but maybe is a bit related. Do I decide to closely associate myself with a group? Am I a more serious part of them, or someone who participates some but doesn't entirely identify with everything? Thing is, even in a church with a specific creed, each person's experience of what god is, or the church service, or the ritual, will be different. So maybe the idea is that I share some things with these people (under whatever circumstances you are talking about) and decide that those shared places are important enough to me that they outweigh some of the differences in terms of decided that I identify with the other people involved.

I haven't gone to any pride (of whatever stripe) events in a few years now. I think that I am generally less into flag waving than I was. But I definitely agree that there are reasons they are wonderful things for many people, even if they are getting more commercial.

I saw this article and I thought about you.


I don't think you are selfish for wanting to be something more than a label.

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