Tuesday, June 8, 2021

What Has Happened to PRIDE?

 I don't know if it's just that I'm getting OLD, but it seems to me that PRIDE has gone the way of so many other good things in our lives...it has gotten so contorted by the whims and perceptions of so many subgroups that it is almost unrecognizable.

From the controversy over allowing the Gay Officers Action League (NY) to march in the New York Pride parade (because some individuals "feel unsafe" having police at the Pride event), to the revision of the "Pride Flag" - things have, in my opinion, gotten somewhat out of hand. 

An article in LGBTQ Nation begins, "While people complain that the list of letters and numbers to describe LGBTQ people keeps growing, making an “alphabet soup” of the community, the iconic Pride flag hasn’t escaped revision either."

Apparently the Pride Flag has been "revised" several times now so as to be more inclusive. Inclusive to more subgroups of sexual minorities, some of whom the average gay or lesbian may not have even heard of. The article states:

"Most subsets of the LGBTQ community have their own flags now, from the transgender flag designed by Monica Helms decades ago to the “Labrys Lesbian Pride Flag.” There are genderqueer and genderfluid flags, and bisexual, pansexual, and polysexual flags despite some folks’ inability to tell the difference between the words, let alone the flags. There’s even a flag for straight allies."

But, I ask, why? Why does the flag have to include a specific color or symbolic representation for every racial minority and sexual identity group and variation of sexual or non-sexual expression or genital variation?

The ORIGINAL Pride Flag was just a rainbow, a distillation of the visible light spectrum. A colorful, celebratory representation of the entire community with an implied recognition of diversity and inclusiveness.

It was never as if each of the colors stood for gay, or lesbian, or bisexual, or transsexual, or any other sexual minority or expression of sexuality. It was never as if the colors represented white privilege or any particular racial group or skin color. That was never the intent.

The light spectrum that the flag represented implied diversity but it did so, as the word "implied" signifies, without being explicit. It was by inference all-inclusive. It represented the entire spectrum of the community celebrating the beginning of its liberation.

The original Rainbow Flag was perfect. It was simple. It was elegant. It was joyful, colorful, spontaneous, festive, and not especially political or representative of any political agenda beyond being out and proud. 

Back in the 70s and 80s we all marched under the Flag of Pride and it became a symbol of inclusivity, a movement in which all who were out and proud or supportive of those who were out and proud were welcome. 

I'm all for being Out and Proud, no matter how you identify or live out your identity. And I think the Rainbow Flag includes us all and always had...until some people began to see it through a, in my opinion, distorted lens of discrimination and exclusivity. 

I just don't get it. The more colors and symbols that get incorporated into the Pride Flag the more different sexual and racial sub-groups of the community complain about being excluded

The more we try to appease the political and special interest groups, the more divisive I think we are becoming because these attempts to be inclusive seem to do just the opposite. If one is not specifically represented, they "feel" excluded. And I put "feel" in quotes because there seems to be an epidemic of hurt feelings; hurt feelings which, in many respects I would suggest, are inauthentic. 

(I am not suggesting that people don't have genuine feelings around being discriminated against or devalued, only that some of those feelings are misdirected or that some groups and individuals use their supposed hurt feelings as an excuse to gain attention and to isolate themselves from the community so as to further justify their hurt feelings.)

Maybe diluted is a more apt description of what the Gay Liberation Movement has become since that first Stonewall anniversary. Sadly, it now seems the antithesis of Solidarity.

Maybe it's just me, but I will continue to fly the Rainbow Flag. And celebrate the continued fight for liberation that began well before Stonewall.

Happy Pride Month!


  1. Since I'm one of those that the original rainbow flag was said to represent, I can't say I don't appreciate others' need for a flags that says who they are. I love the rainbow flag and think it should remain the symbol of us all, and of the otherness it's come to represent. But I think it's like the European Union. We've got that flag to cover everyone and the individual members of the union have their own. Here in Spain, we often fly the EU flag, the Spanish flag, the Andalucía flag (our region), and the Málaga flag (our province). Oops AND the Fuengirola flag (our city). The United States, obviously has the same symbols; I just don't like thinking much about the Rethuglican USA right now. Anyway, I wouldn't recognize many state or any city flags, nor many European country flags, but I understand the desire to fly all the colors. I think, if it means something to you, fly it ALONG WITH THE RAINBOW!

    1. I don't begrudge any group their right to invent a flag for themselves, but I do not think that they necessarily should be "revising" the RAINBOW PRIDE FLAG with additional colors and symbols in an attempt to feel "included". The PRIDE Flag does not/should not represent specific sexual orientations/gender identities/anatomies/sexual proclivities/sexual expressions/asexual/non-sexual/racial/ethnic identities.

  2. I have absolutely no problem with any of these changes and developments -- time and movements march ever onward into the future. We had our time at the helm of the Pride movement 30-40 years ago. Now it's the turn of the young people of today who have different needs and ideas. I say "more power to them!" Let's not be a bunch of old curmudgeons. Remember when we were young and our parents' and grandparents' generation did nothing but moan and whine and bitch and complain about us and how we were changing everything and had no respect for their "old ways"? Full circle, my friend, full circle. Let them have their day.

    1. Wow. I don't think that was what my post was about...but...apparently at least two readers didn't get my point, so I must not have a way with words.

  3. I agree with you 100 percent, Frank. As you said, the rainbow flag is perfect, elegant, comprehensive -- beautiful. Some things can't be improved - they are just right.

    I could say a lot more on this topic, but I'll stop right there for now.

    1. Thanks Russ...maybe my point did come across to those, like yourself, who read what I actually wrote.



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