“I’m over the rainbow.” When a friend said this, I didn’t understand at first. My traditional understanding of this phrase is one of ecstatic happiness.
You know, “I was over the rainbow about…” However, my friend meant something else entirely. He was speaking from a feeling that I can only refer to as the gay malaise.
Gay Pride, with all its attendant celebrations and festivities, is here. You can see the influx of out-of-towners and the feel the atmosphere changing like the seasons. I live in the West Village, ground zero of pride, and each year my husband Gary and I negotiate through the throngs of partiers, going blocks out of our way to cross the street, in order to simply leave or return to our apartment. Many of our neighbors leave town to avoid this traffic jam of love.
It is hard to believe, living in the City as we do, that many of those rainbow-clad people who clog the streets have only this one day to live truly in their skin. We take for granted the luxury of living in a community that supports, or at least tolerates, our ability to “live out loud.” Don’t get me wrong, I know homophobia exists and, even in New York, there are those who refuse to accept that gay people are part of the human condition, much less same-sex marriage as part of its natural progression. But on Gay Pride Sunday, those people only show their face behind protective police barriers, their numbers dwindling with each successive year.
Even from behind those barriers, those people can’t help but see something amazing: the eclectic diversity of our community. Different sizes, shapes, colors, gender identifications, butch factors and levels of self-acceptance abound. You see everything on Gay Pride Sunday and there is nothing more reassuring to me. But to those who are over the rainbow, Pride Sunday holds a different meaning.
The very thing that charges me, repulses many, and not just among our detractors. Many gay people, for incredibly personal reasons I’m sure, have little tolerance for those on the outer fringes of our community. Many believe that those who are fearlessly themselves, even in the face of open ridicule, are somehow making the LGBTI community’s journey to societal acceptance harder.
Society, gay and non-gay, is fickle. When images of perfection become our personal roadmap, tolerance for those on the side of the road lessens, or disappears, and the gay malaise sets in. I have heard many say that the fight for marriage equality, now family equality, isn’t their battle; it isn’t on their map. That’s fine with me, there is room at the table for everyone. But what I believe hinders societal understanding and acceptance is our own lack of tolerance for our own.
Having an “all one world” view of life is threatening to many, even trite. But “society” starts at home, as does acceptance, and once we come to terms with who we are as individuals in this world, regardless of sexual orientation, we move one step closer to embracing the diversity that is our community, showing the world by example how to accept us.
June is the perfect month for self-reflection. The promise of the Summer gives us all a new opportunity to shed whatever kept us warm in the Winter and live on our own fringe.
So if you find yourself this Gay Pride experiencing gay malaise, if you catch yourself judging another person because of how they look, what they sound like or who they represent to you, take a deep breath, remember that you are as much a part of this world as they are and Get Over It Mary! Happy Pride!
by Anthony M. Brown www.timeforfamilies.com, Originally Written June 2016