But if I get booed, let it be for a good reason. Criticism supported by well-reasoned argumentation is fine. Just picking up a few words here and there and getting furious is not. So first of all, whoever wants to be mad must read the article in its entirety. Second, whoever wants to be mad must understand the content. This article was written not as a denigrating text; it is a means to give vent to the sense of discomfort concerning a pressing issue. Whoever perceives it as otherwise, please read again. Homophobes, please get lost.
Yesterday it was Gay Parade day. We didn’t go like the greatest part of the local population, not for ideological reasons, but merely because big crowds are not our thing unless it’s for some very peculiar occasions. Sociophobia is an ailment as any other and only now and then I can wrap myself in a pretense of extroversion and go out, apparently almost at ease but actually quite plastered in paranoia, in this frankly overpopulated world.
I’ve always had difficulties understanding this Gay Pride phenomenon. In particular, I’ve always found it hard to grasp the meaningfulness of it. In the guise it has taken over time, that is. The distorted carnivalesque display of fripperies and affectations, the hyper-indigestible regurgitation of cheerful dysmorphia, the forcibly imposed status of freakiness becoming an all-inclusive kitsch-feast. I cannot seem to be able, maybe – why denying it? – for a deficiency in my own cognitive apparatus, to understand the bond connecting the gaudy pandemonium and the term Pride. I’ve always felt – again, maybe for a deficiency in my own mental abilities – homosexuals were completely out of sensible paths, wanting to affirm their just rights recurring to such clownish antics. Is there really anybody right in their minds who would claim any right in a risible latex attire two sizes smaller and in yamanba-like make-up? I mean, c’mon. Nobody would conscientiously choose this kind of approach to offer a positive image of oneself when claiming anything; nobody would choose this kind of approach as a means of persuasion when it comes to human rights. I would never march, because in my eyes marches have long ago lost their revolutionary appeal and I am used to the ways of my home country, where they’re just an escamotage like any other to take a day off; but even if I would, if it were for a worthy cause, I wouldn’t do it in a way that would make it look like I was making a fool of myself and that I was simply taking a day off.
I’m not in the position nor I am interested in here to write a pamphlet and to be exhaustive on the subject, but we all know that as far as human history goes, rights of all kinds have always been denied to a social group or to another. It’s in human nature to restrain, punish and deprive. Religions often spread not only from the need of conferring sacrosanct authority to what has no legitimate natural basis, like calculated cruelty and prevarication, but also on the other hand as means to stigmatize and define culpabilities – sins – in order to delegitimate opponents, preventing thus destabilizing forces to claim privileges that would result destructive for institutional powers. The whole authority structure grants to those holding institutional supremacy in their hands more or less complete control, and to those depending on the power holders the reassuring sense of constantly finding themselves protected inside known well-known boundaries. Who could affirm after all humans don’t like concentration camps to a certain degree? And what are religions if not trascendental forms of dictatorship? But other genres of powers besides religions have the same dangerous inclinations. It’s no wonder then that very often those powers pertaining the sacred and the secular were – and still are – tightly entwined.
Thankfully, despite the tendency of humans to be in constant need of some homogeneous mass to melt into and to create powers in charge of preventing this mass from alarming diversification, there have always been dissidents, those up for the fight, those ready to make scapegoats of themselves in the present in the hope the day would come to bring their sacrifice into effectiveness. The visionaries, the theorists, the utopians, on the speculative side; the anonymous legions of martyrs and, in successful cases, the easily recognizable heroes; the humble enthusiasts and the consolers.
The use of the term gay referring to homosexuality goes back in its current connotations to the early years of the XIX century, but its origins as a synonym of depravity and immoral behavior date back to at least the XVII century. An embarrassingly long tale of often intentionally perpetrated misconceptions and ignorance! For some reasons though, even nowadays, gays seem to be fond in a rather disturbing way of this slurring appellation. They even got to the point of adapting to it, instead of adopting another denomination to represent themselves more fairly. It feels disturbing to me because they sort of accepted the inherent derisive connotation of the term gay, conforming their general image to it for the benefit of the public sphere. It would be like having Afro-Americans conforming to vilifying terms like nigger, while we know from history Afro-Americans struggled also to obtain justice concerning a denomination to represent them in a humane manner: they wanted to be be considered as individuals with a proper cultural richness, not as mere working automatons, beings at the bottommost stage of the evolutionary process familiar only with the lowest animal instincts. Unlike other minorities, gay people seem to be the first to mock themselves when values and civil rights are involved, offering to the world an image that is eerily similar to that of the cripple in late Romantic narratives. Figures as the recurrent heroes in Victor Hugo’s novels come to mind: the clownish freaks condemned by nature and estranged from their fellow men – no, to be more exact, often estranged because of the sufferings inflicted upon them by their own fellow men.
The modern clown is not necessarily metaphor of an ontological status: that of the clown is a mask, and all masks are devices whose purpose is to disguise and to conceal, voluntarily or not, something more profound that for a reason or another couldn’t be acknowledged. Any person is condemned, throughout a lifetime, to wear several masks, none of them more faithful to the authenticity of concealed Being than the other. The tragedy of the individual originates from the schism separating masks and Being. The clown thus is a tragic figure forced to live in a world that is blind to the actual self hidden behind the grotesquely gay façade.
Behind this gay façade homosexuals seem to hide of their own accord, presenting to the world an extravagantly frivolous self-representation. They conform themselves to the image the world, scared of differences as they are seen destabilizing forces to the reassuring order of society, wants to keep of them. And this is an image of idiocy, where endless carnivals and mindless dancing end turning them into puppets of no ethical and moral depth, unlike normal people with feelings and reasons of their own.
Every time I look at images from Gay Prides, I see the tragedy of the ridiculous, not joie de vivre or self-affirmation. I see the horrors of social constrictions, the desperate failure of a misplaced call for recognition. We are fifty years apart from the Stonewall riots, and the parading has become nothing more than mannerism, losing its original militant connotations. It’s not anymore a deconstructive uproar to propel constructive alternatives, but travesty tout court, that uses stereotypes no more to overturn them, but as an innocuous play that reinforces those same stereotypes in the eyes of casual onlookers. What kind of pride is in that? I wonder. Wouldn’t be better to advance and move on instead of remaining rooted in these anachronistic positions?
Of course, more discerning people do know homosexuality in its multiple facets and variations is not only about the exuberant festival of excesses; the extravagance of drama queens on parade in their best frilly costumes; the pretentious loud music and the fireworks. The parading of the Gay Pride is just the una tantum celebration in the course of a whole submerged existence. Homosexuality in our sadly not so fully civilized society is mainly about silent self-affirmation; it’s about the need for recognition in an environment that most of the times is not prepared for acceptance; it’s a daily struggle to keep a personal balance strongly rooted in its pivot, whereas the rest of the world is spinning in the opposite direction. It’s ultimately a recherche of normality clashing against the wall of ignorance and obscurantism plaguing the ordinary intellects and whoever stands behind them, those who are in charge and need to maintain a status quo. The only hope for ordinary intellects to understand what homosexuality in all its forms is about is clarity and education. But it’s not really through endless parading that this clarity and education can be administered.
Fortunately enough, Iceland is a sort of exception in the desolate panorama of worldwide tolerance. The Gay Pride is also a feast for families, a day for parents and children and their friends to gather and enjoy a general sense of merriment, like it happens with every other carnival parade there is. Here it’s not a day for divisions to grow neater among normality and queerness. The point is the term pride, to not lose its already weakened incisiveness, should be used no more as a label for this kind of events. Language has its importance and shouldn’t be used improperly when serious matters are involved. At least that’s how I see it. Also, looking at the celebrations’ program, I think there is more to be done. Dance parties from noon till dawn and touristy events craftily renamed for the occasion offer a deceitful representation of a manifestation that should be about proclamation of human rights.
More than a few may say I’m not in the position to be so patronizing about Gay Pride, as I am not as a matter of fact homosexual, though I don’t honestly see why only homosexuals or their detractors should be expressing themselves on Gay Pride. Also, I’ve never considered the possibility to be homosexual myself as a remote chance in the realm of the impossible, as many gay-friendly persons do; it simply never actually happened to me to entertain a relationship with a same-sex person, but it could as well have happened given the right circumstances – maybe I’m a latent bisexual after all, whatever this means. And as I don’t feel I am part of any majority as well as I don’t feel part of any minority either – and I don’t regard myself as nihilist just because I don’t feel like I belong to any faction with the only exception of my own – I assumed I could freely express myself without appearing too biased. So here it is, my tuppence on the matter.