I should probably start this post by acknowledging that there are many things I’m proud of, but being gay isn’t one of them. I’m proud to be a psychologist because I had to work hard to get that degree. I’m proud of my blog because I feel I’m learning and growing from this project. I’m proud to be a fairly decent person because it’s something I think a lot about and work hard at. But I’m not especially proud to be gay, since I was born that way. (Anyone who believes otherwise should take a look at Is it a choice? by Eric Marcus.) I’m not ashamed to be gay, at least not anymore, since internalized homophobia is so passé.
Maybe I’d be proud to be gay if I felt I were a better gay person, but I’m not, just like I’m not a very good Jew–I would eat a lot of bacon were I not on a low-sodium diet–and I’m not a very good athlete. I’ve never volunteered within the gay community and I haven’t participated in many community-sponsored events with my people. I am sorry for my gay inadequacies. Whether or not I’m a “good gay”, as a much-better-gay-than-me friend recently called herself, I love going to Calgary’s annual Pride Parade, held every year on Sunday of the Labour Day Weekend.
In fact, I cry a river of happy tears from beginning to end. I cry at the people who march in the parade, young and old, parents and children, such a mix of people from all walks of life. I cry when I see participants from police and fire and so many others, including religious groups (hey, we should get the Jews out!), businesses, athletes, and politicians. (Shout out to Rob Anders, my bigoted, homophobic MP: this may be your last year to show your support!) I love the diversity of floats and the brave people marching. I love that the number of supporters of our varied groups gets bigger and bigger each year, both in the parade and on the sidelines. I’m proud of the many people in our sexual- and gender minorities who are likely attending such an event for the first time, because, as I recall, the first time is the hardest. I love seeing kids both in the parade and among the spectators, and, like them, I get excited when people on the floats throw candy at us. And I admire how comfortable the younger generations seem to be with who they are. That’s thanks to the hard work of the generations that preceded them. Hard to believe it wasn’t so long ago that a homophobic spectator spit at my friend.
I hate to bring it back to cancer–I always seem to–but Canada’s progressive stance toward us folk is all the more critical to J. and me now. To think that if I lived in many American states, J. and I could not be married, which could affect her input into my medical care. Also, I could not be on her health plan, which would cause us huge financial hardship. And there are many far less progressive countries than the U.S.
This year, a group of friends will be joining J. and me at the parade. These friends are gay and straight and unconditionally supportive of who we are. What could make the day more special? Know you’re welcome to join us. Just look for the gal who’s crying.