Why We Could Just Get Along – LGBTQ Pride Month
As a straight white male, I might not be the best person to take on this topic. But on the other hand, my background made sure that I can easily sympathize with, or at least understand members from both factions. So, why not give it a shot? If my views and ideas can show a different path to even a single a person, I believe I have done my job as a human being right.
Before we start, here’s a little information about me, for context. I was born in Romania shortly after the communist regime fell. While most of the adults around me were either bitter over what they’d been through or hopeful about the new age, I grew up somewhat disconnected from their struggles.
Then I got into American pop culture and all the books I could find, which made me a target at school. And if you think kids in the First World are bad, my bullies were straight out of a Stephen King novel. In college, where I mastered in psychology, I realized that I was slowly but surely becoming a liberal in a predominantly conservative country.
Failure to Communicate
That said, along the way I figured out that most conflicts between people arise out of a failure to communicate properly. People don’t generally like living with hatred and anger, although the latter does tend to be addictive.
Instead, most conflicts stem from the fact that one party generally doesn’t believe that the other one is capable enough to understand their reasoning. We tend to think of those unlike ourselves as lesser people. That’s not intentional, even though some lifestyles do promote it. It is a natural evolutionary response to our environment.
Of course we’re going to think less of those who aren’t part of our “tribe” if for most of our existence all we knew was that our tribe was our only chance of survival.
But we can override that natural instinct, just like we override so many others. Knowledge has that effect. Learning that something is true can lead to an entire chain reaction which ends in reassessing one’s life choices. With just a few words, we can take an idea from our head and implant in somebody else’s.
The main issue with this is that most ideas have a highly subjective element to them. And most of us know that, even if some don’t know how to put it in words. This gives birth to a certain refusal to acknowledge evidence that goes against your established beliefs, also known as the confirmation bias.
Tragedy and Acceptance
One year ago yesterday, a madman with a gun killed 49 people and injured 58 more. While it was a national tragedy for the United States, the crime was unmistakably targeted at the LGBTQ community. In its wake, the attack left tears and scars which may never fully heal. The victims and their loved ones will never forget the tragedy in Orlando.
But that attacks spoke of a greater issue present throughout the world’s cultures – we are still willing to discriminate against those who aren’t like us. Be it skin color, religion, or sexual orientation, we always find something to distract us from what truly matters – we’re all just humans, on the same boat, trying to make it in life.
If we perpetuate an attitude of hostility, tragedies like the one in Pulse will never stop. There have been plenty of theories as to why Omar Mateen did what he did. Some claim that he was gay himself and couldn’t find a better way to deal with his repressed sexuality, while others simply claim that he did for his faith.
But the reason doesn’t really matter. What matters is that he was so unstable as to do what he did and that society allowed it to get that far. The grim speck of irony is that in his mind, he did what he did for God. And God, in every single religion out there, promotes treating others as you’d want to be treated yourself.
Even if you think your God asked you to punish people in His name, remember that He is also the supreme judge. And if He is all-righteous, all-powerful, and all-knowing, why would He need just any random person of faith to discriminate people for Him?
Now, I’m not religious myself but I still believe that we should treat others fairly. I feel like we owe it to each other, simply for making it this far, to be the best version of ourselves we can. Or, barring getting involved, we should just leave everyone to their own devices. Life gives us enough trouble for us to add to it. Even if somebody stands against everything I believe in, it’s their right as a human being with free will.
If this hypothetical nemesis of mine proved to be unreasonable, I would simply distance myself from them and hope that they eventually see the truth as I see it (because, just like everyone else, I somewhat consider my version of the truth to be superior to that of other people). If not, I would just leave them alone.
And most children think the same way. Before being introduced to bigotry and disapproval, children are the friendliest humans out there. Sure, most infants are sociopaths who wouldn’t bat an eye killing a parent if they could but that is simply because of the stage of development they’re currently in. The fact that even while we have no capacity to empathize we still tend to view each other as the same regardless of our differences is paramount evidence that discrimination is bred, not born.
Both Sides of the Equation
Let’s start this section from the point of view of the anti-LGBTQ movements. From their perspective, they are simply being good people, respecting the Lord’s wishes and trying to make a better country for their offspring. They either don’t care or think that it’s for the greater good that they’re denying an entire group of people the same rights as them.
Moreover, the confirmation bias I’ve mentioned before is always at work, showing them examples of LGBTQ people acting exactly as they fear these people act. The media they follow usually only presents the situations which might make them feel threatened. People who believe that you choose your sexuality are also victims of the same confirmation bias.
And that is perfectly normal. Would a liberal person take for granted a study performed by an obviously conservative party? Most of them wouldn’t because we know the media is influenced by those in charge of each medium.
Similarly, if someone believed their whole life that being gay is a choice and that “the gays” shouldn’t marry because God says so, a few articles aren’t going to convince them that they’re wrong.
But knowledge, once obtained, is very difficult to discard. Once a seed of information manages to take root, it can itself trigger the confirmation bias. So, it’s through thought-stirring discussion and talking openly that we can overcome our differences.
Of course, LGBT pride parades are very meaningful for the LGBT community. And the community should keep holding them for everything they stand for. But they will not solve any misunderstandings or change too many minds. Treating those who don’t agree with one as equals and having honest, fact-checked open discussions is the only way to alter an idea which was with a person for their entire life.
LGBT Pride – Origins
And now, we’re going to talk for a bit about the origins of the LGBT pride parades. In fact, the first such gathering was actually a march, not a parade. It took place in 1970 and it was called the Christopher Street Liberation Day March. The event stood to commemorate the Stonewall riots which took place a year prior.
The march was a somber one, spreading from Sixth Avenue from Greenwich Village to Central Park. There was a single cheer audible from the gathered crowd but it was joined by signs and banners. The chant was “Say it clear, say it loud. Gay is good, gay is proud.”
One year prior, police had descended upon a gay club in downtown Manhattan called the Stonewall Inn. Patrons fought back, and it led to a nigh-week-long protest. The march was meant to remind people of those events and to raise awareness of the unjust treatment of the community.
The first real gay pride parade took place in Los Angeles somewhat simultaneously, as it was sanctioned by the city, and thus made official. The tradition soon spread to many other parts of the world. It inspired young LGBT people everywhere to come out of the closet, and would eventually lead to the legalization of gay marriage about four decades later.
Ultimately, gay pride parades are events where a certain group of discriminated people gets to let go, express themselves in a way they can’t afford to in their day-to-day lives. It’s a celebration of their struggles and their identities, as well as a way to show other people in similar situations that it gets better.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this article on the LGBTQ pride parades. Signing off, here’s one final quote on the topic. Rita Mae Brown once said that “The only queer people are those who don’t love anybody.” For more opinion pieces and thoroughly researched articles, come back to our website at any time. Have a great June, everyone!