Open column: Let’s talk about pride

By Lauren O’Brien

What’re we proud of, anyway? Sure, Pride Week’s an institution in every LBGTI community. The ‘queers’ come out and play. It’s a celebration of diversity. Streets are painted pink. Rainbow flags are toted. But what’s the point? And if it’s so important, how come there’s no “heterosexual pride”?

Pride Week attempts to provide a place for the LGBTI (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered and Intersex people, for those of you not in the know) community to recognise what it is to be ‘non-hetero’ in a heteronormative society and to recognise the struggle for self-determination that is faced by people around the world – and continues to be faced.

It attempts to recognise the challenges faced by all people who don’t conform to what is considered ‘the norm’. It’s about refusing to accept the stares, comments, and violence that people who aren’t ‘normal’ receive every day.

The OUTRhodes Pride Week focused on political and social issues and – unlike our parties – our events were attended quite poorly. Of course, it’s more fun to party. It is easy to understand that someone would rather be jamming at The Rat than debating adoption by homosexual couples. But, sometimes we do stuff that isn’t fun, stuff we think is necessary.

I don’t think that sacrificing a couple of hours of my time is too much trouble to dedicate to a cause which I feel strongly about. I don’t understand how “corrective rape” of lesbian women, hate crimes and homophobia are things about which one cannot feel strongly. And yet, our events which aimed to create awareness and encourage change received very little support.

There is no “heterosexual pride” because it is easy to be heterosexual – it is expected. Children are expected to have a Mommy and a Daddy, fathers worry about protecting their daughters from boys, teenagers are expected to have a boyfriend or girlfriend (provided, of course, that they are female or male respectively). Heterosexual people don’t have to “come out”.

LGBTI people, however, have to come to terms with not conforming to everything that they have been taught is ‘normal’ and tell their families and friends – who have inadvertently contributed to continuing a heteronormative ideal – that they don’t identify with what they have been made to believe they’re supposed to be. Of course, sometimes – and sadly, often – people who don’t conform are subject to physical abuse. It’s not only about being an LGBTI person, or even understanding the difficulties faced by LGBTI people – it’s about recognising that all forms of oppression are both linked and unacceptable. I fail to understand how it is possible to be repulsed by one kind of subjugation and be willing to accept – or tolerate – another.

In a society that supposedly celebrates diversity, I feel that perhaps we’re accepting too much rejection and forgetting to reject non-acceptance. We oughtn’t celebrate hate – or even to condone it. By neglecting to act, we allow something that shouldn’t be happening at all to continue indefinitely. To be honest, I’m disappointed in this collective neglect.

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