A good friend once posted a photo of a soldier, captioned “This is what pride used to look like.”
It still is! I am so proud of those who serve. Anyone who fights against the greatest injustices of all—the snuffing out of human lives and the elimination of freedom—can and should claim pride.
Now, to address another kind of pride, one we hear a lot about during the month of June…
I had a little trouble understanding it myself at first. I’m gay, it’s a part of who I am, no big deal—so why should I be particularly proud of it?
Well, little history-ignorant-former-self, think of it as “pride in response to shame.” We say “Happy pride” because it’s less cumbersome than what we really mean: Happy pride-in-response-to-shame” or “Happy PIRTS.”
But I’ve never been shamed for it, my former self might say—to which I respond: Well, that’s because you live in an amazing time and place of enlightenment. It’s because those who came before you did suffer shame, torture, and exile for it, and some of them said, “We’re not going to take this anymore.” They protested. Fighting for change, they yelled and screamed for equality while being told to shut up; while being told they were less than human. Aren’t you proud of them? You don’t have to look far to see that fight isn’t over.
Former self: OK, now I am a little ashamed for being ignorant of that. Will other gay people be mad at me for my ignorance?
Current self: Some will, and not just gay people. To some, all of the above is so obvious that they can’t help but become enraged when you don’t see it from their point of view. They might think you’re being willfully ignorant. Be patient with them. Grant them the patience you wish they would grant you.
“Gay pride” isn’t about being proud of your sexuality. It’s about being proud of those who fought, and are still fighting, for your freedoms. It’s about being proud of any kind of soldier who puts his or her life on the line for the benefit of others. So when you see a rainbow flag or silly costumes, don’t separate yourself, thinking it has nothing to do with you. It has to do with all of us. All of us humans who celebrate any form of freedom. Embrace pride, and whenever you can, help others understand the kind of pride it is.
To all you soldiers out there, military and otherwise: Thank you, thank you, thank you.
And … Happy PIRTS!