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31
May
Pride 2014


LGBTTQQAAIP Pride!

 

You may or may not know this, but June is International LGBTQ Pride Month! W00t! =) It also may have escaped your notice that Positive Passions is an Official Pride Sponsor. So to celebrate sexual diversity (which is my second favourite thing, right after participating in it) I thought I might provide you with some information about Pride and why it is important to support Pride Festivals worldwide. I’d also like to cover some information about sexual diversity (such as, what I mean by that term), along with related terminology, as well as the history of Pride. *Cue “The More You Know” comet*

It is common among people outside the LGBTQ community ask what the “point” of Pride events are, so I’ll start with this. It seems like it would be obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people say things like, “Why isn’t there a straight pride parade? You’re gay, so what? Why do you have to be proud about it? Why should you get favouritism?” (These are often the same people who ask things like “Why isn’t there a white history month?”) It’s difficult not to be upset by these kinds of questions, but this is the kind of blindness generated by lack of education, excess of heteronormativity, and the privileges conferred on certain members of society. They aren’t in the minority and so they don’t understand the struggles of minorities or the fact that people in minorities are not on a level playing field with everyone else. These questions, though, need to be addressed; people need to be educated. Pride events are important because, like all minority groups, members of the LGBTQ community have been made to feel that they are inferior, that there is something wrong with them, and that they should be ashamed of who they are. A person announcing that they will no long be ashamed of their identity, saying that they have as much right as anyone else to be proud of who they are, is hugely important to reclaiming a sense of being human and of being equal to everyone else; a community doing so strengthens and reaffirms not only its individual members but also enhances the larger community. Countries benefit from being inclusive as much as individuals benefit from having the space in which to be who they are, free from discrimination. This isn’t favouritism, this is treating people as if they are people, it is welcoming them into the community at large and recognizing their humanity and the equal status that is their right as human beings. Simply put, the “point” of Pride is to raise awareness about sexual diversity and its normalcy to the point where we no longer need acronyms and labels for our sexual expressions, they will just be and all will be welcome.

Symbols of Pride

Pink has been the most prominent colour within the Gay Rights movement due to the Pink Triangle homosexuals were forced to wear during the Holocaust – as I’m sure you know, Nazis were also prejudiced against homosexuals (along with many other minority groups) [1, 2]. Today the triangle has been reclaimed and is often depicted with all the colours of the rainbow inside of it instead of just being pink (although pink triangles are still common). It is now a symbol of pride in one’s sexuality, it’s a celebration of sexual diversity and freedom when once it was a mark of “inferior status”.

A rainbow is used to represent the gay community for several reasons: 1) because sexuality is more like a spectrum than a dichotomy, 2) because rainbows are symbols of hope and renewal, and 3) because the colours have different meanings which the community associates with itself and its aspirations. The rainbow was adopted by the gay community in 1978 [3].

 

Pride History

 

The Gay Rights Movement and Pride Parades began in June of 1970, in commemoration of the Stonewall Riots [4]. The Stonewall Inn was a popular New York hang out for drag queens and gay men; the Inn experienced regular police raids, during which the patrons were arrested and money was extorted from them in exchange for their privacy. Those who couldn’t or wouldn’t pay had their sexuality revealed to the public, costing many their jobs, friendships, and familial relationships. Patrons went to the Inn expecting an ordinary night at the club and left bruised, humiliated, and in handcuffs. In 1969 the police raided the Stonewall and arrested as many patrons as they could while being none too gentle in their treatment of the detainees. On this night, however, the patrons fought back, assisted by some bystanders (you could think of them as the first allies), and the struggle continued over three days. One year later, in memory of this event, the first Pride Parades were organized, not just in NYC but across the United States. Beginning in 1972, Pride Parades came to Canada as well, beginning in Toronto. 

Prior to the mid- to late-80’s the gay community was called just that. Sexuality, as we have discussed, is more like a broad spectrum consisting of more than just hetero- and homosexual. So to represent this spectrum, the acronym LGB was created to stand for Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual.

In the mid-90’s, as education and awareness spread, so did the acronym. There was a need in the community to represent the diversity within gender as well as sexuality. Thus, LGB became LGBT to include transgendered individuals. There was actually a bit of a struggle to make the change in the acronym, believe it or not. The reasons being many but we will touch on three in particular: partly, it was felt in the then-LGB community that they were tackling issues of sexual expression and equality among sexualities – to include gender expression would simply confuse the matter. The second reason was that many within the community were already aware of differences in gender expression – there wasn’t a need to represent transgendered people because it was assumed that they were covered under the umbrella term of LGB. But the point of Pride is to raise awareness in society at large, to include as many voices as possible – not to invalidate and silence them. The third reason was somewhat counterintuitive: being so used to receiving discrimination tends to blind one to one’s own acts of discrimination and, unfortunately, there was a sentiment within the then-LGB community that they were fighting for their rights, not another minority’s rights. Basically, if transgendered people wanted equal rights then they should fight for them instead of hitching a ride on the LGB bandwagon. This mindset is changing, thankfully, and we can all now participate in the longest acronym I’ve ever seen:

LGBTTQQAAIIP. Well, that escalated quickly! But seriously, that’s the full acronym nowadays. Because we’re growing an alphabet. A big, fabulous, glittering, rainbow-coloured, inclusive and celebratory alphabet. Looking at it as an acronym, it may seem a bit convoluted – so let’s learn our Gay ABCs and clear up the confusion!

L – Lesbian. A woman who is sexually attracted to women.

G – Gay. A man who is sexually attracted to men.

B – Bisexual. A person who is sexually attracted to both women and men.

T – Trans. Is used to represent both Transgender and Transsexual. A person who is transgendered has a gender that does not “match” with their physiology. Ex: A person born into a “male” body may still have a gender identity that is female – that person is transgendered. A person who is transsexual has undergone a process of transforming their body so that it physically matches their gender. Ex: A person born into a “male” body and then has surgery to make their body “female” so as to match their female gender identity is a transsexual, and, more specifically, a trans woman.

T – Two-Spirited. A person who feels themselves to be both genders simultaneously and who performs the socially constructed roles of both genders.

Q – Queer. This will be easier to explain with a grammar lesson first. Queer is a verb that literally means “to bend”, this was the case prior to queer becoming a word meaning “strange, or odd”. Example: Are you bending the rules by reading sexuality blogs on the Internet when you should be working on something? Congratulations, you are currently queering the rules! Individuals who take on the label of Queer like to bend the rules, too: the rules of gender, of sexuality, of labels. Initially, people referred to themselves as Queer when they did not want to be known as one gender or the other, or did not want to have their sexual expressions labeled as being anything (gay, straight, bisexual – anything). It was a method of resisting labels, like selecting “Neither” instead of “Male or Female”. Now it’s more like saying “I’m all points of all spectrums at some point in time, so it’s not technically correct to call me (insert sexuality and/or gender and/or sex)”. For instance, I prefer to be called Queer because mygender pretty much changes daily and my sexual expressions and preferences change pretty much as often. Physically, I’m a woman, but some days I’m a gay man. Because sex and gender actually do work that way, believe it or not! And I just don’t like there being expectations placed on me just because I am cisgender and heterosexual most of the time. To me, Queer acknowledges the fluidity of sex, sexuality, and gender.

Q – Questioning. A person who is unsure of their gender and/or sexual preferences.

A – Allied / Ally. A person who is heterosexual and/or cisgender but who is supportive of sexual diversity. (When I’m not busy being Queer, I’m an Ally. When I’m neither of those, I’m a unicorn.)

A – Asexual. A person who does not experience sexual desire, period. 

I – Intersex. A person born with physical characteristics of both sexes. They may have “indeterminate genitalia”, they might have external genitalia of one sex but have the internal sex organs of another sex, or both internal and external genitalia might be of one sex but their chromosomes might be those of another sex (thus many people don’t discover that they are intersex until later on in their lives). This is perfectly normal both in humans and throughout the animal kingdom. Many parents, upon giving birth to intersex babies, are pressured into having sexual (re)assignment surgery performed on their infant. Except in extremely rare cases, there are no medical reasons whatsoever to have what amounts to plastic surgery done on a baby. (Just like, except in extremely rare cases, there is no medical reason to circumcise a baby boy.) The reasoning for these surgeries, and the very harmful side effects thereof, could be a blog post in its own right; suffice it to say that this is but one of many important reasons to raise awareness of the diversity that exists in human sexuality.

P – Pansexual. A person who is attracted to other people – regardless of sex, sexuality, and gender. It was once the general (and mistaken) consensus that people who identified as pansexual would have sex with anything, including things like trees, horses, cell phones, et cetera. This came about because the prefix “pan” means “all, or everything”. It was also thought that pansexuals had an abnormally active sex drive and that they wanted sex all the time (which must be what was driving them to proposition things like rosebushes). As it turns out, a pansexual can actually enjoy nature without wanting to have sex with everything in it. The “all” actually applies to all kinds of people, though, so pansexuals can find themselves attracted to people of any sex, sexuality or gender. (Tip: asking a pansexual if they have sex with shrubbery is like asking an asexual person if they masturbate.)

 

Now that you know your GAY-B-Cs, and you have some information about Pride and the importance of celebrating sexual diversity, have yourself a great LGBTQ Pride Month and may the Parade be as fabulous as ever! =)

Citations

 

1. http://www.geneseo.edu/safe_zone/triangle_history

2. http://www.thepinktriangle.com/history/symbol.html

3. http://www.pflagcanada.ca/pdfs/open_what-is-pride_jul-2007.pdf

4. http://www.civilrights.org/archives/2009/06/449-stonewall.html

 

 



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Life Balance Practitioner Program ~ with Celeste Lemieux

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