It’s a shame, really, what society does to people. The “norms,” expectations, prejudices and hate ingrained into us as young people manifests itself in harmful ways as we grow up.
Sometimes, that internal turmoil results in the worst of tragedies. In September, gay media and national media have reported on no less than five gay teen suicides: Seth Walsh. Justin Aaberg. Asher Brown. Billy Lucas. Tyler Clementi.
Other times, that internalized fear and homophobia expresses itself is less traumatic ways. Internalized fear and homophobia, along with that ingrained sense of what it means “to be a man,” lends itself toward division in the LGBT community.
An anonymous comment on The Charlotte Observer‘s (very) short piece on the upcoming Pride Charlotte festival this weekend is a great example. Ericnc writes today at 7:48 a.m.: AM:
just becuase the festival is going on there, doesn’t mean that’s where we all will congregrate this weekend. we all aren’t the flaming, over the top type. many of us are the same ones you’re working next too, driving next too, working out next too at the gym, playing golf with and going to church with. yes, I said it, going to church with. none the less, pehaps your point really it that the festival is quite the opposite of what it should be to be accepted in the community. Personally, I don’t need a festival to have my own pride, live as a responsible member of community and in general, just live my life.
A second commenter, USA13RX5, chimes in, as well:
I never got the idea of having a “pride” celebration. The one’s in our community who claim that we are stereotyped in the media will be the first ones to run down to this thing and walk around half naked or dressed up as a queen… I am gay but think you should keep it in your own home, there is no need to make it everyone’s business…
“Eric” says he isn’t a “flaming, over the top type.” And, that’s fine. There are all sorts of LGBT people: all races and colors, shapes and sizes, masculinities and femininities and more. But, Eric, it seems, has fallen prey to the idea that those “flaming” types are bad, that those men who don’t fit into some predetermined idea of masculinity somehow aren’t as worthy as others. You see it all the time in the LGBT community, as we suffer from and try to pull ourselves out of the gender “norms” placed on us and used against us daily.
USA13RX5’s comments are just as troubling. “Keep it in your own home”? Heterosexuals are never asked to keep their lives and families “in their own home.” Their families are respected publicly, socially, religious, and legally. Ours, not so much.
I’m sorry for Eric and and USA13RX5. Perhaps they should come to the Pride festival this weekend. There they would both see all sorts of people from very different parts of our community coming together to celebrate a unified purpose and mission: that all people, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity, deserve to be treated with legal equality and be respected for their inherent dignity and worth.
And, as a post-script: Charlotte’s Pride festivities have never been anywhere close to the stereotypical image of “Pride” you see emanating from larger cities. By far, Charlotte’s is the most family-friendly, the most diverse and the most “acceptable” (if we should even use that word) I’ve ever seen. (Also of note: People aren’t allowed to run around half naked, USA13RX5. When I served on the Pride organizing committee, we even had a festival rule — over which I have objected in the past and which no other outdoor festival in the city has or enforces, to my knowledge — that required men to keep their shirts on. Can’t really get more tame than that.)
AND… P.P.S.: Sexism and internalized homophobia aren’t the only issues plaguing the LGBT community. Racism, too, plays host to horrible repercussions to our community’s strengths.