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Are gay pride parades bad for the gay rights movement?

Jun 27, 2011 By Abraham

(image via City Pages)

Here are some comments from people who used to think gays were normal but aren’t so sure anymore.

In case it isn’t obvious, the quotes are from The Onion

“I’d always thought gays were regular people, just like you and me, and that the stereotype of homosexuals as hedonistic, sex-crazed deviants was just a destructive myth,” said mother of four Hannah Jarrett, 41… “Boy, oh, boy, was I wrong.”

“They kept chanting things like, ‘We’re here, we’re queer, get used to it!’ and ‘Hey, hey, we’re gay, we’re not going to go away!'” Orosco said. “All I can say is, I was used to it, but now, although I’d never felt this way before, I wish they would go away.”

“My understanding was that gay people are just like everybody else–decent, hard-working people who care about their communities and have loving, committed relationships,” Weber said. “But, after this terrifying spectacle, I don’t want them teaching my kids or living in my neighborhood.”


  1. Jacob says:

    I can tell this is going to get some harsh replies, but I think the Onion had a point with this post.

  2. kjnelson says:

    It is something to think about. But, all stereotypes come about because someone fits them. It also may be hard to believe, but Pride parades aren’t all gay people. Some straight people take the opportunity to dress up and support their gay friends.

    I have heard some remarks though from straight people who wonder why there is a Pride week, there isn’t a straight pride week. They don’t see why any minority needs a special celebration. My thought is that when it comes to the gay community, they have spent so many generations hiding themselves, its a chance to celebrate that they don’t have to anymore.

  3. Luke says:

    I agree with the Onion for the most part. I went to San Francisco with family on a summer roadtrip a few years ago. It’s a little too much when you have to cover your 11 year old cousin’s eyes because most of the parade’s participants are wearing nothing but electrical tape and walking right by police officers who did nothing. It just feels like there are better ways for everyone to express their views than something like that.

  4. Frank Schneider says:

    Seriously? “I agree with the Onion for the most part.” Now that’s funny! People will always find reasons to hate people they don’t agree with, so people should never base their personal behavior based on the opinions of others! How about I get to marry my partner of 18 years and then I won’t judge ALL heterosexuals based on what I see on most of cable TV, reality TV, @ Mardi Gras, from Hollywood & from politicians and then I won’t call you out for complaining about a small group of people (Many Not gay BTW) on one day of the year!

    1. Luke says:

      I think you misunderstood what I meant.

      “People will always find reasons to hate people they don’t agree with”

      I never said I hated anyone and I don’t. I have gay friends and care deeply for them even though we disagree on homosexuality. We both see it as something along the lines of vegetarianism. Just because you don’t agree with it doesn’t mean I’m going to stop being friends with someone who is a vegetarian.

      I disagree with much of the behavior during Mardi Gras and in Hollywood etc. I wasn’t attacking a group I was only disagreeing with the behavior at the parades. I believe that lewd behavior isn’t necessary for public events. That goes for hetrosexuals, holidays, events etc. and by lewd I mean going around naked with pieces of tape doing little to nothing to shield to hide parts of your body from children.

      I realize the Onion was a joke. “I agree for the most part with the Onion” = I agree with the point being made from the joke, which there clearly is. However I am totally against the “I really do wish they go away.” part.

      I hope I make it clear that I respect the opinions of others even if I disagree with them.

    1. Charles says:

      Thank you Abraham – and yet I don’t think you’re gonna stop the flood…

      And I don’t understand the “i agree with the Onion…” I don’t agree/disagree with a joke. I either laugh, or don’t laugh. It’s either funny or not funny.

      1. Abraham Piper says:

        I suppose it’s possible to “agree with the Onion,” but first you need to know what they’re saying, and that takes a bit of effort and guesswork. :)

        1. Andy says:

          Oh, it’s definitely possible. The whole point of satire is to make a point. My hunch is that while the Onion is generally sympathetic to the gay rights crowd, they’re not afraid to poke fun at them from time to time.

      2. Terra says:

        Didn’t Luke explain tat omment already? (keyboard broken, some keys won’t work. sorry about sp)

  5. leslie Paz says:

    I think that i try to be as “normal” as i can be in society.what i mean is I fit in to society in the eyes of haters i slip under the radar (gaydar) of most. Then the evening news comes on and shows every freak that they could find in our community to make us all look ridiculous.Good thing i dont care that much but i just dont feel that that’s gonna get the “equality” by any stretch of the word.Im down for a good party but its like Mardis-gra in New orleans , just looking to create a shock to straights everywhere.

    1. The Guy In the Picture says:

      Hi Leslie,

      I am the guy in the picture above. I would ask that, if its not to long and tedious, you might read my response to this article below. Please note that while I critique your post specifically, I dont mean it to be quarrelsome or anything.

      Rather, I hope to share with you the possibility that there may be more to the purported “freak show” than meets the eye.

      Also, I hope your Summer of Pride went fabulously!!

      Thanks, and take good care.
      –The Guy In the Picture

  6. The Guy In the Picture says:

    Greetings Everybody,

    I am the guy in the picture above. Hi! I hope this boisterously balmy summer is being kind to you all.

    Now, I have to say, I am rather surprised to see my picture from the TC Pride Parade displayed in the headline above.

    I would like to ask the author why s/he chose an image of my outfit for this article.

    Although I do take some exception to being placed in a Header that reads “Are gay pride parades bad for the gay rights movement”, I am not at all offended, and actually appreciate the air-play.

    Since my own signature drag is being used in this posting, I feel compelled to respond to it. I would also like to address some of the comments on this page.

    I do understand that this article, as well as the Onion article to which it links, are both jokes.

    But the subject of whether or not “flamboyance” damages or uplifts our cause does come up in the general LGBT discourse.

    Look at what Leslie Paz writes above… does she really believe that all the color and exuberance of Pride is meant simply to “shock” straight people?
    From my perspective (and I have been out for almost 3 decades) that is not the case at all. Sometimes we just want to have fun. After all, it’s a PARADE!

    And I can assure you all that, in my case, my hand-made costume with its hand-made accessories (all hand-made by yours truly) are not meant to shock anyone, but rather to celebrate, uplift, entertain, and hopefully educate.

    Let me explain.

    I live to infuse art into everything I can. I want to share as many beautiful things with everyone around me in as many forms as I can. Again, my hope is to inspire, entertain and educate.

    Now, you cant tell this from the picture, but the handmade beads on my costume showcase images of gay people who had an incredibly positive impact on history, but who remain hidden from that very history, because of the long standing stigmatization of being gay.

    Does anyone know who Bayard Rustin is?

    I am sure that most of you do not. Not many people do. And that is sad.

    Bayard Rustin was probably the most pivotal organizer of the Civil Rights movement here in the US, even by Dr. Kings own telling of the story.

    Rustin was the person who organized the March on Washington, the Montgomery Bus Boycott, and helped found the Southern Church Leadership Conference.

    He mentored Dr. King on the practice of Non-Violent, Non-Cooperation, and was the principle liaison between the American Civil Rights movement and social justice movements abroad (including India’s Satyagraha movement).

    Rustin was also openly gay. And this point was used by the opponents of Civil Rights to vilify the cause, and malign its leaders as “perverts”.

    Because of that prejudice, Rustin was forced to go behind the scenes of the movement. He remained the chief organizer for some of its most pivotal landmark accomplishments, but could never be properly credited for doing so.

    Homophobia forces Bayard Rustin to remain invisible in history. And that is just tragic.

    My costume is meant be a means of sharing with people Rustin’s incredible story, and drawing attention to the injustice of his historical invisibility.

    If you look at the picture above, at the lower left corner of my costume, you will see a yellow medallion with a picture pasted to it. This is a famous picture of Rustin and Dr. King together.

    The garlands of beads on my costume, and on my headress both showcase images of Rustin and people like him (eg, Alan Turing), as well as other images referencing queer presences throughout history and across cultures.

    (You cant see these pendants in the picture, because the ensemble is designed for viewing in the round.)

    When people came up to me to get photos or admire the work on my costume, they would ask about who/what images were displayed on the beads, and so I could use this as an opportunity to share with them the wonderful stories of people like Bayard Rustin, or even events like Chamayavillakku (a ritual from my own heritage which places transgender people at the center of the sacred.)

    So the costume was literally a conversation piece…, a walking ofrenda to the legacy of people like Rustin.

    And it was very effective as such. People were delighted both by the flamboyant outfit with its shiny bells and trinckets, and were even more enthralled by the stories told on it.

    Thus, contrary to Leslies claim above, sometimes you can use a festive aesthetic to educate people. And sometimes, costume and street theater are a great way to do so. Cultrual narrative and social activism dont have to be boring.

    Anyhow, I am very sorry about the length of this ramble, but I nevertheless really felt compelled to share all that.

    Seeing that the last posting here was nearly a month ago, I don’t know if anyone is going to read this, and I am not really that concerned.

    But if anyone does bother to read this, I hope you appreciate where I am coming from… and please do check this out— http://rustin.org/

    Fianlly, while I would much rather have my signature drag associated with a more positive message, I do appreciate the author of this post giving me some face time, and thus affording me the opportunity to talk about Rustin.

    1. laurel says:

      One month later and I read it :). I agree and disagree with every comment here, if that makes any sense lol. I am not gay and have my personal feelings about it, however I have numerous very close friends who are gay/les. And I also support thier decisions and believe it to be their right to choose sexual orientation. Also parades are meant to be fun and I am thesbian so bring on costumes and street performances galore! But at the same time, there is such a thing as going overboard and being too lewd for public, as someone stated there could be children watching and though I believe it is nesassary and right to teach them about homosexuality I do not think it is appropriate to be near naked and a little too sexual in front of them. Also it could vive them the wrong message. Anywhos thats my $0.02 :) keep it real! Oh and I enjoyed the history :)

      1. The Guy In the Picture says:

        Hi Laurel,

        To begin, I would like to wish the Happiest of Holidays to you and yours.

        Now, I am responsding to your comment almost 3 months past its initial posting (and my Holiday break is really the only reason why I can.)

        I apologize for the time-gaP, and dont know if you may even get a chance to read this. But on the off chance you do, I would just like to add a few more comments.

        First, on behalf of my fellow gays, I want to thank you for your support. Its people like you who make it easier for us to live and love without harassment or fear. As someone who knows what it like to be out and proud at a time and place when that was VERY dangerous, I want to thank you.

        Second, I agree that scantily-clad muscle-boys are not necessariily the most “family friendly” thing to see at Pride, but my drag most certainly is. Thats why I was a bit non-plussed to find my picture in this article. I dont run around in my underwear, I wear saris and sarongs. I am one of those folks who really likes to do it up.

        During Pride, gay parents and their kids ask to take photos with me the same way they would with any average mall Santa on Christmas. And I see my role as more or less the same (sans any monetary exchanges or payments for photos.)

        Basically, I am an over-dressed street-mime with a message (for better or worse.) Thats all. No naughty parts are displayed or referenced in my drag.

        There certainly are participants in the parade who are more taudry and exhibitionistic… and while I respect them (and may even be attracted to them), I certainly am not one of them. I am one of those gays who finds joy and celebration in the flow of straming gossamer fabric through the mid summer air. I cant imagine myself in a jock strap, if even just for kicks.

        Anyhow, I suppose the conversation is far too aged to merit further elaboration, but i just wanted to share that.

        PS- I am really glad you enjoyed the history. As a professional artist, I take great pride in fostering educational dialogue through my work (in this case, my drag.)

        Do pardon my self indulgence, and thanks so much for your kind response.

        Have a great Holiday, and may 2012 bring you and yours all the peace, joy and prosperity our world has to offer!

        -Sincerely, The Guy in the Picture

    2. Terra says:

      Your statement was fasinating to read. I tink tat was a really neat idea. Kudos to you for spreading your stories (and sorry about te broken keyboard key typos).

    3. J says:

      My very late $.02: No prob on the lengthy ramble. You’re right about your costume not fitting with this article’s point (a resply below), or The Onion’s. It is also very fitting to what a parade SHOULD be, for fun!
      Being a devil’s advocate, I think they did intend to show a gettup not fitting but should be fitting with what’s seen around and on floats. If it wasn’t for the unfomfortably scantly clad dudes, or chicks, I’d be supporting my LGB friends by being there.
      I am not even going to into a blah blah about “yeah! This article said what I’ve been saying for a long time!”. I read that you also would concur, and would say that because it’s a Parade, the theme should be just Fun! Not an adult euphamism for fu…. Anyway great costume, and great reply. Keep on rocking in the free world Gay Santa.

  7. Rip Ragged says:

    Funny and not funny at the same time. Gay pride parades are not going to improve any straight person’s attitude toward homosexuality. Everything straights find offensive about homosexuality is amplified and “in your face” in a gay pride celebration. That won’t win converts to anything.

    1. The Guy In the Picture says:

      Hi Rip… the thing is, Pride Parades are for us, not for straight people (even though straight people are, in fact, welcome.)

      Many people wonder why we should have a celebration of our own. Oftentimes, i have heard the complaint that we are “pushing” our sexualities in other peoples faces.

      But that argument is belied by the facts of daily social experience.

      The pervasiveness of hetero mating rituals in everyday life is so widespread as to be invisible.

      School proms, weddings, bachelor/ette parties, dating shows, retail specials, etc… all reflect hetero mating patterns. Everyday around toen I see hetero people macking on each other, tounging each other, slobbering all over each other, showing off their partners like trophies, etc… You know what I mean because it happens everywhere.

      Even our formal terms of address (Mr., Miss, Mrs.) reflect hetero mating status (with the onus of transparency on women, who must be either “Mrs.” or “Miss”… by contrast, the terms of address remain the same for a straight guy regardless of his marriage status.)

      Now, I am not complaining about all that. I am just saying, we have to see straight people pushing their sexuality around all the time. They exhibit it in the most tacky and ostentatious manner, but its so common as to be innocuous.

      If you are straight, you might not realize this, just as most men dont realize what women deal with in the work place.

      But Pride is OUR time… its for us. Its not a message sent to the hetero world. its recalling a very important and pivotal event in modern history, the Stonewall riots. THATS what Pride is about.

      We arent looking to win the approval of those judgemental straight people who seriously believe that what they do with their genitals is so much more dignified, sacred and pure.

      Rather, we are celebrating OUR existence, OUR contributions, OUR history, OUR struggles for equal rights, our ups, our downs etc…

      I dont mean this to be snarky, but you should be aware that the world doesnt revolve around the whims of heterosexual chauvanism… sometimes things can have a life of their own.

  8. marcus pavlov says:

    you know what we should have a heterosexual parade in sanfran…and say hey hey we straight…get used to it don’t hate… listen i may be against gays and all but as long as you don’t wear leather straps and choke collars and try to hit on me (like many have) i am fine with you, why can’t gay people be like straight people but gay…so then we wouldnt need gay bars…does anyone understand what i am saying?

    1. Paperchaser says:

      Right – because there are no straight bars out there. You realize if the gays went to your bars they’d be hitting on you even more, right? Because you sound IRRESISTABLE.

      1. marcus pavlov says:

        yeah you are right…stupid idea i don’t know what happened to me there for a second…i turned liberal for a second…but i am back to being conservative…

  9. Dallas Dunnett says:

    Marcus, regardless if you want people to believe the bull you said, thats hateful man. I don’t know where you’ve gotten the image of gay people from, but as a supporter of LGBT, I’m a bit disgusted. I myself am straight but that means nothing at this because you’re pushing your beliefs upon readers who could take offense to that comment. Just wanted to put that out there…

    1. marcus says:

      i don’t understand you are disgusted by what i said but you are not disgusted by the fact that this pride parade can sometimes be so gross that parents have to close their childeren’s eyes…i never said anything about the homosexuals who live a normal life, and live like a normal person and don’t push their sexual oreintation…i just wanted to put that out there…

  10. Terra says:

    My best friend is lesbian and SHE’S awesome. Some gay people I’Ve met are just kind of freaky and weird, but for te most part tey’re pretty awesome. I kind of like anging out wit gay guys, tey don’t try to flirt wit me and will atually treat me like an equal. But tese parades are ridiulous and exessie and tey will go nowere. If all tey did was wear “gay pride” sirts and parade, wateer, but is it really neessary for te lak of loting oter tan tape? I mean, really. I know some people for wom te ideas oied in tis artile are genuine. It’s ard to aept people like tis wen tey sow it like tis. It’s kind of sary, atually.
    (sorry about te illegibility of my typing, seeral keys on my omputer are broken and won’t work.)

  11. Saktel says:

    I have to tell that I am gay and I feel very bad when I see a gay parade on TV. It makes me think that something is wrong with my mentality. I mean… seriously what LGBT laws compares to rainbow make-up, BDSM activity, kissing, exhibiotionism etc? It makes the stereotype that all homosexuals are weird and they’re pervs and they like wearing extravagante.

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