Randy McDonald (rfmcdpei) wrote,
Randy McDonald

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[BRIEF NOTE] What's the point of Pride?

In the summer of 2000, when I was 20 years of age, I worked on detached duty for Tourism PEI at the Charlottetown airport, positioned at a nice new booth stocked with pamphlets and maps and booklets. Naturally, hardly any incoming visitors stopped by, leaving me plenty of time to write, and occasionally to talk to other people at the airport, people I knew and staff I didn't. One of the people I didn't know was a young man about my age who, after a time lag, was exceptionally friendly to me. I found him oddly intrusive, partly because he kept intruding on my personal space when he talked to me with that certain intensity. The summer over, I forgot about him entirely until I was talking with a co-worker at Christmas. You know that guy who had everything to live for, she said, the one who disappeared from his home wearing only a T-shirt, the one whose disappearance was covered in The Guardian, the one whose body was just pulled out of Charlottetown harbour? Well, guess what, we knew him.

There's no way for me to confirm what I first realized was a possibility a couple of months after I had my own certain realization.Thinking back on what I remember, though, there's a horrible sort of plausibility to the idea that I missed certain signals. It isn't as if gay youth suicide isn't a very serious problem. Alas, Pride wouldn't have done anything to help if my suspicions are in fact correct. How could Pride possibly have helped? The concentration of Canada's population within a half-dozen megalopoli continues apace, but a near-majority of Canada's population still lives outside those cities with the critical mass and the advanced attitudes needed to create the critical demographic and social masses needed to support large GLBT communities which, in turn, can support things like Toronto's Pride celebrations. Even within these megalopoli, getting access to these communities can be rather difficult. Pride, I fear, preaches to the already converted.

Pride is celebratory, of itself in general and of its transgressiveness in particular. You could argue that the existence of the GLBT community and of GLBT individuals is transgressive. You could, but I'm not inclined to agree. My personal experience of coming out has been that, if anything, it's been a profoundly integrative sort of experience, that it has been rather normalizing. Three and a half years later, I'm pleased to report that I'm now just as fucked up as every other underemployed grad school graduate in the GTA in his mid-20s. Yes, this is actually an achievement. I'm reluctant to generalize, but I think that my experience of my sexual orientation as just another element not different in type from other people's heterosexuality is increasingly common, especially in those most advanced communities. Undue emphasis on the potentially transgressive attitudes can backfire. I still remember drinking my overlarge cups of coffee in the UPEI English Lounge at UPEI, listening to fellow students talk about the most prominent out guy at the time, and disliking the slighting laughter-annotated way that they were talking about him. I don't want to give even well-meaning people false assumptions. My life, I write as I think of the TV footage of the near-naked dancers on Pride floats, isn't like that. It's much more boring.

What's the point of pride? It's carnival. It's a suspension of norms, strictly delimited in time and place, where those so interested can play at the bacchanal. As a proof of Torontonian acceptance, it works nicely, and as a forum to meet new people--if you've the requisite capacities--it also works. It's best not to place too much importance on Pride, though, and just enjoy it. And now, because it's much too nice a day out to sit inside and blog, and because I've a busy schedule ahead regardless, I'm leaving. See you all later.
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