Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Gay Pride Parade

I walked through the West Village earlier this week, a surprisingly difficult endeavor as I discovered, belatedly, that it was Gay Pride Week. It took forever to get around, with streets blocked off by extraordinarily grim-faced police officers and every inch of sidewalk space packed with, er, colorful-seeming individuals.

As time has gone by, I find myself less and less shocked by same-sex displays of affection, outrageous risque outfits, etc. But while my tolerance has grown, I still felt a certain underlying distaste - which I'd previously chalked up to lingering homophobia. Having given the matter some thought, however, I don't think that's it. It's that I find it distastful to base culture and lifestyle upon sexual preference.

I find it equally distasteful when heterosexuals do likewise. I feel uncomfortable with people whose discussion invariably draws back to sex, for whom innocent double entendres are milked for miles and everything's generally all about getting laid. We human beings have so much to offer that to make one's sexuality the thrust, so to speak, of one's existence seems embarrassingly feral. Love is important, and it transcends mere sexual preference. But sex, in and of itself, and the topological choices it entails, seems fairly mundane; more akin to plumbing than poetry.

One might well point out that homosexuals, as a discriminated-against minority, are compelled to band together in co-affirmation of their sexual preference. Heterosexuals, after all, get their affirmation directly from the culture. But do folks in Greenwich Village really feel a lack of corroboration? I didn't see emotional shackles being cast off as I walked through the crowd - though I did see some other sorts of shackles put to highly creative use. By all means, gays should have equal rights re: marriage, military, etc., and they should join together to fight for these rights, and to confront bigotry in general. But beyond that, is there any reason to build one's cultural identity around sexuality?

Moreover, if gay love is inextricably tied to cultural and lifestyle, doesn't that play into the hands of those who insist gay love is intrinsically different, and therefore gay marriage oughtn't be granted parity? True love carries no cultural baggage. It simply is.

As a member of several minority groups, myself, I feel little compulsion to tie my identity to any of the granfalloons in which life has randomly placed me. And if I ever found myself obliged to choose a tribe, I'd hope I'd find one whose members share a deeper affinity than a common preference for innies or outies.

Needless to say, there's much that I don't grok, having not walked in those shoes. And I certainly don't condemn anyone for the way they choose to act, live, or culturally identify. Such choices are basic human rights, just as sexual choices are! I'm just pondering my feelings aloud, and I reserve the right to be wrong - and to change my mind later, too!


Big Fella said...

I think I am in the same place as you on this, Jim. What I find really off putting is when anyone shoves their sexual proclivity in my face. Just relate to me as a human being, and I will appreciate you and reciprocate, as a human being.

Daniel said...

As someone who used to spend one minute out of every fifty-two considering my own sexual preferences, I’m happy to devote a week to it once a year, and get it all out of my system in one go. Incidentally, I’ve penciled in next week for nineteenth century French literature. Of course, that’s something I enjoy in the privacy of my bedroom.

Jim Leff said...

Daniel, good point (and thanks for posting). Yeah, Gay Pride Week is a blow-out time (ala Mardi Gras or Spring Break), so it's silly to assume that's how people behave the rest of the year.

But some do. And it's they, I guess, who perplex me. On the other hand, I'm obviously not The Grand Arbiter....

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