Sunday, June 24, 2007

NYC Pride 2007

The grand marshals for the March this year were Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum and Reverend Dr. Troy Perry. The religious contingents marched at the head, unlike in previous years. I've mixed feelings about this emphasis on religion. I appreciate the political statement such a move makes, especially in the current fight against religious fundamentalism and literalism. I also support the ideal of inclusiveness, which must embrace religious groups as well as secular movements. But I think this move raises the profile of organized religion too much. The answer to fundamentalist homophobia lies in some version of human rights, equality and liberty, some universally valid vision, and not "God is also on our side." But the latter answer makes for better TV, I guess.

A cheeky placard held up by one such contingent quotes Paul, "It is not what enters the mouth that makes one unclean."

Pride should be a carnival as much as a political statement. I was happy to see so much flesh, feathers and fur. To mark Pride, I am resurrecting an old poem, with a slight revision in the last line.


Don’t lecture me on man and maid
as lock and key, as sheath and blade,
Statesmen or Sales, or Singers.

A ring, gold band, is Body’s goal;
the men cavort around the pole.
The women? Hot gun-slingers.


Harry said...

There's been an argument this year in the UK about members of the armed forces attending Gay Pride in uniform. Choice quotes:

One Whitehall source said: “The problem is that Sir Richard is worried that soldiers in uniform will be marching alongside a bunch of blokes dressed as Marilyn Monroe, and this might be seen to be disrespectful to the image of Her Majesty’s Armed Forces.”

A defence source said that General Dannatt, who is a strong Christian with deeply held views on morality, was not making a moral judgment on homosexuality, but was clearly concerned about soldiers in uniform attending the march.

All of which sounds like doublethink to me, but I guess with the battle won to allow gays in the military, whether or not they can wear uniform at Pride rallies is a relatively minor point.

Jee Leong Koh said...

Thanks, Harry, for that interesting link. The responses to the report are even more interesting than the article. The fact that such a debate occurred makes me think that it is all the more important for servicemen and women to wear their uniform during marches. Legislative and policy changes are important, but what is more significant is cultural change. A change in people's attitude. The gay organizers, and advocates, do have the responsibility of explaining better the meaning of gay marches. But having homosexuals march in uniform is a visceral emblem that gay is okay, that gay is in every important aspect of society. Unlike race, which wears its wounds on its skin, gay suffers from invisibility. Making the invisible visible, by clothing it in uniform, clerical collar, or boa feathers, is a vital part of that needed cultural change. A cultural improvement that we have seen and are still seeing in our public discourses on race. Meanwhile, strong christians, with strongly held views on morality, like Sir Richard, will continue to speak out, and expose themselves as the illogical homophobes that they are. The situation in UK is, of course, still better than in US. Police officers and firefighters marched in uniforms in the NYC parade, but that makes the absence of the armed forces even more telling, and sad.