The Gay Pride festival takes place this weekend in the City of San Francisco. The LGBT community in the Bay Area is large enough and demonstrative enough to have prompted Oakland to host its own Pride Festival in September in the last few years. Thus, those of us who live here are reminded at least twice a year of the prevalence of homosexuals in our area and in the country at large.
Personally, I think it’s a disgrace. To my mind, there is absolutely no reason why the gay and lesbian community should still, in the twenty-first century, have the reason or need to hold a festival in order to discourage feelings of shame in being gay.
I mean, really, people. Homosexuals have been around for thousands of years that we know of, and probably since the beginning of humankind. Clearly they aren’t going anywhere. Get over it.
And people are getting over it. Like non-whites, like non-Christians, non-heterosexuals are gradually becoming a part of mainstream America. They’re characters on television, and in movies; characters with depth and style, not mere stereotypes of what homosexuals were once popularly supposed to be.
Yet, compared to other minority groups, there’s still a difference in the way gay and lesbian characters are handled in the popular media, and this, to me, is the crux of the matter, the yardstick by which we know that the homosexuals have not yet gained acceptance as a mainstream minority. Because so many of the roles featuring homosexual characters are not about ordinary people who happen to be homosexual, but about their homosexuality itself.
And that’s a crucial difference. Living where I do, I’ve met many gay and lesbian couples and the fact is, apart from the same-sex issue, most of them are basically indistinguishable from heterosexual couples. In my experience, most homosexuals don’t actually fit the “types” you’ll see featured if you attend the Gay Pride festival. Most of them are perfectly assimilated into a mainstream American lifestyle, and many more of them would be if the heterosexual community would simply let them. Being gay doesn’t mean they have different customs and values; if it did, they wouldn’t be fighting so hard for the right to marry. Shouldn’t we be applauding their desire to make permanent commitments to their selected mates? Doesn’t that make them more like the majority culture, not less?
Yet people continue to argue about homosexuality as if it’s a moral or behavioral issue and not a physical one. But homosexuality simply cannot be a choice, for the very logical objection that if it were, who in their right mind would choose it? Who would willingly volunteer to spend their lives being mocked and scorned and beaten and abused if they could help it? The fact is, there’s no overcoming the sexual instinct, not for heterosexuals, and not for homosexuals, either. And it seems to me to be both foolish and pointless to try.
Minorities will always be minorities, and to a certain extent, they’ll always stand out because of that. Indeed, this melting pot that we call America was basically founded as a haven for differing minority groups, and its multi-culturality only continues to increase as the decades pass, which is certainly not a bad thing.
But the day will eventually come when non-heterosexuals won’t have to be defined by their sexual orientation. When they’ll be able to be people first and gay second. When they’ll no longer need a Pride festival to champion homosexuality. Because no one will even give a damn anymore whether they’re gay or not.
I’d like to attend the Pride festival a few decades from now, when they make the announcement that it’s to be the final one. And if the LGBT members of our community are all at home or at work going about their own business, then I’ll know it’s time to celebrate the equality that they have finally achieved.