Solidarity with Eastern Europe’s Pride

For this year’s 30th-annual Pride Parade in Toronto, an estimated 1.3 million people turned out.

In Minsk, Belarus, this year, 25 people turned out.  

They were attacked and arrested, reports Nikolai Alekseev.  In Moscow, where Pride Marches have been banned repeatedly, Mayor Luzhkov calls such events “satanic”; and as in Minsk and Moscow, so too in Vilnius.  Mike Gogulski calls attention to the situation in Slovakia, where the objectives of Bratislava’s first-ever Pride March have been characterized by the current parliamentary opposition leader as “tyrannical.”

Such manifestations of undisguised hatred cast what we do in Toronto in a different light.  Where freedom of expression may be taken for granted, Pride Parades in the West often showcase the saddest, and most stereotypical, parts of “gay culture” (or at least gay male culture). 

Real life, however, isn’t about being young and beautiful forever, or about identity politics.  To the extent that the public celebration of “gay culture” becomes associated with superficial beauty and self-regard (not to mention with easy-access porn and narcotics), the clerical criticism of Pride, such as Bishop Alfeyev’s, becomes sadly intelligible.

Intelligible—but not correct.

The Alternative 

More correct is the approach adopted this year at Chicago’s Pride Parade by The Marin Foundation.  Their representatives went clad in black and carrying signs saying “I’m Sorry”—apologizing for Christians’ frequent persecution of queers. 

For may it not be the case that all those glittered and feathered Magdalenes are nearer, and dearer, to the One whom the archpriests and their accomplices deprived of all form and beauty?

“This life has been given you for repentance,” says S. Isaac the Syrian.  Can we try to imagine the effect of Bishop Alfeyev leading an Orthodox contingent at a Pride Parade, carrying a sign saying, “I’m Sorry”?

vozradujemsja

Victor de Villa Lapidis

Published in: on July 7, 2010 at 10:27 am  Leave a Comment  
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Some thoughts on Pride 2010

Yesterday, I attended the Pride March.  I admit to having been a bit apprehensive about the going.  I’d never been to one before, and from stories that I heard, I expected it to be a bit outside my comfort zone, and was somewhat afraid of seeing a display of homosexuality rather like the one appearing in this satirical article by The Onion.  However, I was pleasantly surprised, for the most part.  Sure, there were about 20 men near the front of the parade, completely nude.  Sure, the Leather Daddys and the BDSM groups made their appearance (more about on the morality and ethics of BDSM in a later (hopefully soon!) post).  But the march was not a warlike assault battering the gates of a hostile and morally superior world; for the most part it was a boisterous show of solidarity, welcomed by cheering supporters all along the parade route.  If there were anti-gay protesters, to my surprise, I didn’t see them.  For the most part, no matter what your orientation or conviction—homo- or heterosexual (or even asexual!), religious or atheistic—you could cheer and feel support for someone in the parade.  It almost felt mainstream:  the Anglicans, Heterosexuals for Same Sex Marriage, even (which shocked me the most) the School Board had a float.  Even more charming was the large group from PFLAG marching with signs such as “I’m proud of my trans son.”  In the Village, one almost had the illusion that Pride is completely mainstream, as even hardware stores demonstrated their support:

Dudley Hardware, Church Street

(Of course, if it were really mainstream, they wouldn’t have to show support, it would just be part of the culture, and we wouldn’t need a Pride Parade, but baby steps…)

That being said, a few things did bother me, most especially the level of other major political issues that people tried to address in the parade.  Sure, everyone has politics, but I feel that a march affirming the existence of and need for GLBTQ rights is not the place to air feelings about Israel, or plug your candidacy for Mayor, because, as the buttons distributed by the Ryerson Student Union remind us, “My Pride is a March not a Parade.”  Pride should not be a place where those with the most amount of money and/ or supporters have the best floats, flashiest costumes, and loudest voices.  It’s a march to remind people that 40 years ago, such an open display of queerness would have been unthinkable, and that in some parts of the world, it still is.  It’s a place to marvel and celebrate how far we’ve come, and remind people of the work still to be done.

But we have come far.  I stood next to an older Filipina, in her 60s.  She wore a conservative long jean dress, with a long sleeved jean jacket, decorated here and there with embroidered flowers.  She could have been any one of the women I meet at church, or even my own mother.  But on her jean hat was a wreath of rainbow flowers, around her neck, rainbow beads.  She cheered as loudly as any of the young short haired dykes, and the boys in heels and eyeliner.   She cheered in joy and solidarity.

Pride 2010

In Corde Mariae,

Eiluned

Published in: on July 5, 2010 at 10:54 pm  Comments (2)  
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