Why I love Pride Month

I love Pride Month. I love that it exists in our society and is celebrated in many different ways.

Why? There are several reasons.

INCLUSIVITY MEANS INCLUSIVITY FOR ME

An inclusive society is better for all of us. We are all weird and outsiders in our own way, whether we notice or not, and whether it’s part of our conscious identity or not. We can all easily find ourselves as part of a minority group we previously didn’t belong to and never imagined we would.

We may find ourselves with a disability, we may become a refuge for any number of reasons, we may find ourselves in poverty, and so on. These things have happened to innumerable people who thought it would never happen to them, so it can happen to me too.

We all know that, whether we acknowledge it or not. So it feels viscerally safer to live in a more inclusive society. It means that I too am more likely to be included now and in the future.

MEDICINE FOR CENTURIES OF MARGINALIZATION

We live in a society that has a history of excluding and oppressing minorities of many different kinds, including gays and ethnic minorities.

Pride Month is the least we can do to swing the pendulum slightly over to the other side. It’s medicine for centuries of oppression and inhumane treatment of minorities. It’s medicine for gays who feel or fear they are wrong or excluded.

Equally or more important, it’s medicine for the old unhealthy attitudes that remain in all of us, gay or not, just because we grew up and live in this culture.

THE WORLD IS MY MIRROR

The way I treat others is the way I treat corresponding parts of myself. I exclude parts of me, just like our society has excluded minorities for centuries and millennia. Pride month is a reminder of this, and an opportunity for me to intentionally embrace more parts of me. To welcome them, as I wish to be welcomed.

There is a golden opportunity here: What do I react to about Pride Month? What stories do I have about it? What stories do I have about gays? What stories do I have about other minority groups? What do I find when I turn these stories to myself? Can I find genuine and specific examples of how it is as or more true?

RESILIENCE

There are also reasons that – at first glance – may seem more distant, while they – in reality – are equally immediate and personal.

An ecosystem thrives when it’s diverse. Compared to monocultures, a diverse ecosystem is far more adaptable to changing circumstances and disasters. It’s infinitely better able to adapt to and recover from wildfires, floods, and droughts, and it’s far more resistant to pests and diseases.

That’s how it is with our society as well. The more diverse, and the more inclusive of minority groups, the more rich and resilient it is. It provides us with more views and tools to deal with a rapidly changing world. Our toolbox is bigger.

We can easily find ourselves in collective emergencies where the solutions come from minority groups. (I would argue that we are in exactly that situation now: One essential solution to our global ecological crisis is found in the worldviews and attitudes of many indigenous cultures. Another set of solutions comes from hippies and treehuggers who have historically been marginalized and mocked. We won’t find all our solutions in these marginalized groups, but we find some of the essential ones there.)

IT SAVES LIVES

If all of that is not enough, it comes down to something very simple. As the meme above says: Pride is important because someone tonight still thinks they are better off dead than gay. It literally saves lives.

For me, that’s more than enough reason to celebrate Pride Month.

PRIVILEGE

In our current Western culture, it’s generally not acceptable to have open anti-gay or gay-skeptical attitudes. That means that those attitudes take other forms. It may take the form of: They are making too much out of it. It’s too much with all these flags on public buildings. Why is it a whole month?

These are often the views of people who have not (yet) experienced how it is to be marginalized because of their gender, ethnicity, or sexual orientation. They represent the most privileged groups in our society, and since they are unfamiliar with the pain of being marginalized, they are less able – or less motivated – to imagine into the situation of these groups. That, in turn, means less empathy and understanding.

What they may not notice is that those attitudes hurt them too. It reflects how they relate to marginalized parts of themselves.

Some may also feel threatened by seeing previously marginalized groups elevated. They may feel that their privilege is threatened. They see the world as a zero-sum game where they lose if someone else wins. Their worldview does not include the many ways it benefits all of us.

See also Why I love Woke and Language, woke, pandemics & ecology: Snapshots vs the long view.

AN ARTICLE FROM LAST SUMMER

As a footnote, I thought I would include a brief article from last summer:

June was Pride Month, and there were lots of rainbow flags outside of stores, government buildings, and homes.

I overheard a conversation where they said things along the line of: “It’s a bit too much”, “Why make such a big deal about it”, and so on. It was not directly queer-phobic, but obviously disapproving of Pride Month and the limited way it’s been marked in Norway.

To them, as heterosexuals in Norway, it seems like it’s too much. It shouldn’t be such a big deal.

To me, it looks very different. Historically, queer people have been oppressed and even killed, so having pride month is the least we can do to show that they now are included and accepted. Around the world, queer people are still oppressed and killed in many places.

From a sheltered Norwegian perspective, perhaps it seems a little much. But from a historical and global view, it’s the least we can do.

I love living in a country that’s inclusive and accepting in this way, and I love Pride Month and people putting up rainbow flags.

These are the attitudes of people who live in privilege and have never experienced how it is to be marginalized. They are often white and male and have never experienced real hardship. They represent the groups that are most privileged in our society, historically and still now. They don’t know the pain of being marginalized. So they can afford to have very little empathy with those who are. At least, they think they can afford it, although those attitudes hurt them too. It reflects how they relate to marginalized parts of themselves.

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