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Monday, June 5, 2006

A Straight Friend's Guide to Gay Pride

Gay Games, Gay History, Gay Olympics, Gay Pride, queer history, homosexual history, Famous gay celebrities, queer rights, homosexual rights, queer pride
A friend and fellow Blogcritics writer Andy Marsh asked some honest and intelligent questions of me in my article "How Many Current Professional Athletes Are Gay?" (of which volumes 1&2 can be found in the table of contents above) and I felt honored that he’d asked, because a lot of my straight friends have probably wondered the same things, so I’ve converted it into a sort of conversation.

Andy: Is it really necessary to have a Gay Games? The way I read the article, it sounds like these athletes want or wanted acceptance...does calling yourself out with things like the gay games really make you feel included or excepted? Are there hetero games or hetero pride days?

Jet: Having lived through the turbulent '60s and '70s the short answer is yes; back then it was; Nowadays maybe not, but back then definitely. As an example, way before your time there was an era when blacks had their own sports teams (The Negro Leagues) because they were segregated and weren’t permitted to play with whites. A sense of intolerance towards blacks back then even extended to having separate whites-only drinking fountains. That same intolerance began brewing toward gays in the 70s and 80s as people like Anita Bryant and Jerry Falwell’s “Moral Majority” began their unchecked hate mongering and their spreading misinformation about AIDS began doing a lot of damage. In short they succeeded in super gluing the words Gay and AIDS together, leading people to believe their lie that all gays had and spread AIDS.

They were so successful that back then even Gay publications were calling it “The Gay Cancer”. Tragically they actually had people believing that you could get AIDS just by swimming in the same chlorinated pool or breathing the same air. The best example was in the 1988 Olympics when Greg Louganis’ head hit the diving board, causing a scare because he’d bled in the pool. Suddenly professional and amateur sports began banning gays from competing because people were led to believe out of ignorance that it was just as easily and/or mysteriously contracted as cancer.

We knew better, but we couldn’t convince the general population of that, so we started holding our own games to insure that great athletes had a place to show their stuff and be recognized without the over exaggerated stigma involved with HIV positive athletes competing.

Andy: It just seems to me that wearing a big sign that says what you are — no matter what it is — is just asking for trouble. Think about it. Even here at Blogcritics, there are people that give some people shit for never serving in the military and those same people give other people shit that DID serve. So it seems to me that any label you put on yourself is just asking some other group to fuck with you, but that's just me. Does calling yourself out with gay pride day and stuff like that really make you feel included or accepted?

Jet: Let me answer that in four parts.

1. There was an era in my life when I’d make good close friends with people, we’d socialize, have fun, play sports, see movies etc. Then they’d find out I was gay, and suddenly want nothing more to do with me, for only that reason. So I started wearing that sign you mentioned so that they’d know up front who I was and if they couldn’t handle it, it was better to find out then rather than be hurt and spurned later by someone you’d grown close to as a friend(s). In days gone by it might have been “My god I didn’t know you were Jewish!” or “Is your father really black?” and a day later you’d stop hearing from them.

2. By the late 70s televangelists, the born-agains and the religious right had seized on an opportunity that had been handed to them on a golden platter making us pariahs of society. They had people actually believing that AIDS was God’s punishment to homosexuals, and that just being gay was “contagious”. The U.S. is one of the few countries in the world where the general population thinks AIDS is a gay disease. Ronald Reagan refused to stop the disinformation by simply ignoring the AIDS crisis for a long time, doing damage by his complacency. Unwittingly it fooled straight people for years into thinking they could have unprotected sex because they weren’t gay, so they couldn’t possibly get it.

Back then, exclusive use of the word homoSEXual was used, to emphasize their assertions to the frightened population that we are all sexual creatures first and humans second, meaning that the very moment we saw another male; especially a young, tender, impressionable and innocent one, we’d lose all control of our sexual urges. They took advantage of people not understanding back then how someone can grow up gay naturally, so they convinced people that somehow homosexuals were recruited into it by some pervert at childhood to perpetuate the species. How else does one become gay: certainly not naturally? It must be a choice-like anyone would choose to be spurned and hated!

3. The Gay Pride parades are actually a celebration of an important anniversary in our culture (our very own Fourth of July you might say). It’s the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. There was a real time Andy, when it was actually illegal just to walk into a gay bar. In New York it was a nightly occurrence for cops to go in to gay taverns like the Stonewall Inn and arrest and/or beat up half the clientele just to harass them. It became fun sport for bored policemen.

On Friday evening, June 27, 1969 the cops figured a bunch of drag queen fairies and pansies wouldn't fight back, and started brutally using night sticks during an arrest raid, and those mincing little fags in their dresses, leather or tight jeans decided enough was enough and fought back-resulting in one HELL of a riot that is talked about to this day. It signaled the beginning of the Gay Rights movement, so we celebrate the anniversary in June every year.

It’s the religious right that’d have you believe that our parades are just an attempt to get in your faces and scream “we’re here and we’re queer!” Actually we’re just celebrating like the Irish do on St. Patrick’s Day. I’m appalled every year at how news reports only show the glitter queens prancing in their rainbow wigs, high-heels and falsies, or the Dykes on Bikes, and ignore the hundreds or thousands of ordinary people marching along side them, perpetuating the myth that the vast majority of us aren’t “normal”, and don’t lead “normal” lives, in “normal” ways.

The parades are a way to show people just how much of an invisible population we are, and the only effective way to do that is in sheer undeniable numbers. Here in Columbus tens of thousands of people turn out every year, just to say "Hey; there are more of us than you might think there are!" and in New York and San Francisco they number in the hundreds of thousands. Then the next day we all seem to mysteriously disappear back into thin air; which frightens some people. As long as we’re all lisping flamboyant queens wearing pink chiffon, they know who we are and where we are. You fear what you don’t understand Andy-you fear what you don’t understand.

4. As for Gays coming out in the military, well another short history lesson. Andy. As you know, a long time ago homosexuals were considered sick and disgusting, but back during the Cold War gays made a lot of meaningful contributions in the military especially in the ranks of military intelligence and scientific and nuclear research, but paranoia set in because it was assumed that if you were gay you were susceptible to being blackmailed by an enemy spy into giving out secret information. Russia was infamous for photographically trapping diplomats with young gay hustlers in Moscow to get information.

We're more like everyone else than you might think Andy, and most of us are just as patriotic. I personally fly a giant flag off my balcony on holidays. We would openly make contributions by serving openly in the military if we could, but simpleminded people won't let us, so thousands of gav servicemen contribute their talents and lives for your rights and the rights of hatemongers like Phelps and Falwell and no one acknowledges it publicly.

Are you aware that one huge problem in Iraq right now is a lack of translators and medical people? The army just dismissed dozens for no other reason than that they were gay! Ignorance-pure ignorance-as if there really is a terror of some poor soldier being turned into a terrified helpless virgin unable to fight off the advances of some fag while he his way with him. There are people who think that gays look at the army as a huge “hunk” grocery store, where we can pick and choose, when the reality is we’re just as anxious to serve our country as anyone else.

Andy: One more thing. I seriously doubt you were appalled to find out that pro athletes stay in the closet until their careers are over, unless you've been in a real closet with the doors locked for the last, what, 50 some years?

Jet: I’m not surprised that Pro athletes stay in the closet until their careers are over—I’m appalled that they have to, especially when in other countries it isn’t necessary.

I hope I’ve answered a few questions. Happy gay pride week!

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