Why we call it Pride
Pride is often seen as a character flaw. Too much pride is equated to an excess of ego, the dangers of arrogance and narcissism. For us in the LGBT+ community, however, pride takes on a whole new meaning
Pride is strength; pride is knowing oneself; pride is the tenacity of identity. Pride is no longer just a word, but it is our revolution—our movement towards reclamation.
The difference between the negative connotations of “pride” and our community’s use of “Pride” is born from a long history of oppression as well as suppression.
A participant in the 1973 Gay Pride Parade in New York said, “I’m very proud of myself. Accepting of myself.” Three years after the Stonewall riots—a six-day stand-off that began at Stonewall Inn in New York—where our fellow LGBT members withstood the crackdown of city police, the Gay Pride Parade found its roots in the act of political demonstration.
America in the 70s ran after the heels of social movements of the 60s—civil rights, women’s suffrage, and anti-war sentiments. It was the height of subversion, starting from urban areas where diversity and production created sites of struggle for marginalized communities. It was a time when voices rang louder than the dictates of state authority.
But why do we call it Pride?
Our lives as members of the LGBT community in a restrictively heteronormative society used to be about shame and suppression. We have had to suffer the duty of “fitting in.” For decades, homosexuality was seen as disease that needed to be cured—often by violent and aggressive means. Sodomy used to be illegal—in some states, it still is. In a heteronormative society, relationships are prescribed to be a certain way. Rigid doctrines, both secular and religious, created equally rigid and intolerant cultures that stripped the individual of the right to choose. Indeed—the right to love. Failure to cope with heteronormativity is discrimination, prejudice, and in the most extreme cases—persecution, even death.
Shame was the punishment for deviating from the norm. Pride, therefore, is a reaction to the shame that we had been made to suffer for wanting to claim their own identities. Pride is our tool of empowerment to regain what we have lost to the compromise between person and community. Pride Is our way of saying, “I will not be ashamed for being who I am.”
The Pride Parade takes this reclamation of identity to the public sphere as a shared experience of a collective. Our “I” becomes “We” and our community culminates acceptance, solidarity, and diversity in an event that trespasses on the ‘heterotopia’ of public space.
There’s no one way of conducting a Pride Parade. Some are celebratory, some are festive, others choose to be more politicized, framing the Pride Parade into a political demonstration—it all depends on the local context.
By deciding on the constitutionality of same-sex marriage. For the first time ever, states that have once banned same-sex marriage are now mandated to uphold the rights of every individual to civil unions.
But a majority of nation-states have yet to make such landmark developments for the us in the LGBT community. In the case of New Delhi, Pride Parade isn’t just a statement. It’s open rebellion. Though the call for tolerance—even acceptance—has sunk its teeth into existing social divides, Pride Parade is still populated by our fellow LGBT members who wear masks, hiding identities in spite of participation.
In South Korea, the most recent Gay Pride Parade in Seoul has been met with Christian resistance. Undeterred, the recorded thousands of participants soldiered on.
Our Gay Pride Parades don’t necessarily signify the end of discrimination. Rather, we are building momentum. To catapult the tenacity of pride from the private sphere, towards the public.
It’s been decades since Stonewall. Ten years since our largest LGBT Pride Parade recorded 3,000,000 in attendance in the streets of São Paulo, Brazil. A combined 11,000,000 of us have gathered at the world’s ten largest Parades—eight of which in the last ten years. And yet, the same rallying call resonates: “Say it clear, say it loud. Gay is good, gay is proud.”
Our parades march on—we need to. Social revolutions, after all, come in waves. And this isn’t the last of it.“