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This weekend is Gay Pride in San Diego. I was (considering) not going to the festivities this year, thinking that it's going to be the "same old thing." However, Wednesday evening, my partner Patrick D. Riedling and I experienced a very disappointing situation that left me wondering ...
We were walking home, near Robinson Street and Fifth Avenue, essentially in the heart of Hillcrest, our "gayborhood." Patrick crossed the street to take a picture of a new mural on the Crest Cafe when a car full of screaming male teens drove by and called him a "faggot." I crossed the street and they proceeded to call me a "faggot" too. I initially laughed it off, as part of me felt that it was just ridiculous to go into a well-known gay-friendly neighborhood to try to spread hate.
And yet as I reflected on it on Thursday through new eyes, I realized that we cannot rest on our laurels. Much how we have yet to fully extinguish the scars of racism in our society, we have yet to address the issues that contribute to this kind of destructive behavior toward the LGBTQ community -- my community.
For when it comes to hate, its root has always been, is, and always will be fear. And the only way to extinguish this darkness of ignorance is to expose it to the light of truth.
Much like some straight people, I am not interested in watching gay men dance in their underwear to the latest club craze on a float that would make Macy's parade organizers cringe. I know that I may be oversimplifying it, for I understand that the provocative nature of these displays are done to break social mores. But we live in a different time now and I don't think banana slings are the best way to represent the ever-changing face of our community and the issues that continue to afflict it.
I know, or at least I hope, that all Pride events are supposed to be much more than that. I will say that seeing LGBTQ military members open the parade last year as well as seeing committed couples display their pride in seeking social equality were the best parts of last year's parade. Thinking back on my adolescence and considering the vile circumstances of LGBTQ youth in today's society, where suicide rates are despicably high and bullying/violence is a matter of national attention, I can't help but feel that the platform provided by Pride events is not being used to its full potential.
And yet, I will go watch the Pride parade this Saturday, if only to remind me that although hate still exists -- respect, love, friendship, empathy, commonality and many other positive factors of our community will continue to drive us forward on the road to equality and justice, provided by both the law of the land as well as by the growing enlightenment of its people.