06/02/2014 In My Writing
32
Andrew
Jun 02, 2014

Gay Pride Month Virtual Roundtable

This week on my blog, we’re trying something a little different. In honor of LGBT Pride month, I am among a great group of panelists who will be hosting a month long discussion about Pride, LGBT Youth, Allies, and more.  Our panelists are a diverse group of readers, writers, and supporters of gay fiction, including Larry Benjamin, Rick Bettencourt, Brandilyn Carpenter, Rob ColtonAndrew Q Gordon, Lane HayesDebbie McGowan, and Brandon Shire. Each week, two people will answer two questions related LGBT pride, rights, and related topics. We will also be giveaway free copies of eBooks by our participating authors and a Amazon gift card. You can enter by clicking on the RaffleCopter link below.  There are special entries for each week of June, so don’t miss out on those.

LGBT Round Table
Please join in the discussion in the comments.  You can gain entries into the giveaway, but more importantly, you can be part of a important and fun discussion.  Though only 2 panelists will be posting each week, we will all be joining the discussion.

This Week’s Discussion:

What was the first gay pride event you attend? How did going make you feel?

The first pride event I attended was in Philadelphia. I was 24 and dating someone at the time – we hadn’t been dating long. I remember wanting to go because I thought it was good to ‘show up in numbers.’ He was  slightly apathetic at first, but he held my hand for most of the day and got into things once we got there.

I remember feeling less vulnerable at the time. Sure it was the same streets, same city I was living in, so I should have felt the same, but among the many thousands attending, it felt like safety in numbers.  The other thought was that I wanted it to be like that always. I wanted to be able to hold my boy friend’s hand everywhere, everywhen.  In a way it felt like a dream and I didn’t want to wake up.  Of course then we went home, left the safety zone and it was life as usual again.

The reason I chose this question was, in many ways, gay pride events feel so different to me now. When Mike and I first started dating 19 years ago, we went to the events. Then life started to get a bit busier, we had a house, projects, work etc.  It suddenly became inconvenient and we stopped going.

When ‘lil q was born, we made a decision to go again. Maybe it was that in some ways we were starting over again, this time as parents, but we both agreed it felt right to go and to bring her. We’ve been the last two years, but we’ll miss this one due to a family event in another state.

Do you think gay pride events are still necessary?

I chose this as a follow on to the first question.  I struggled to answer this when I saw it, because is some ways it almost feels like they’re not. My answer, however, is a resounding yes, we do still need them.

Perhaps part of the apathy on our part is where we live. Many areas in Maryland that surround DC are called the People’s Republic of {Insert name of super liberal town here.} in jest.  If there is any homophobia among the people in the area, it’s ‘in the closet.’ Express homophobia and you can expect to be shunned by the vast majority of the community. You become the village outcast, not the LGBT people you’re attacking.

This safe zone, if you will, certainly removes the feeling of safety I used to feel going to the events. It’s not different than my everyday life. The question then becomes, what about the other feelings I got, the desire to be like that every day – well, I have that too now.  I can pretty much go anywhere in my area and not worry about being gay bashed. That might be a false sense of security, but I don’t think so. The places I’d get gay bashed are areas I’d worry about being mugged in general.  But at the shops and cafes in and around my house, at the mall, at the sporting events in my area, I don’t feel oppressed at all. It’s clear we’re a couple/family and no one says anything negative. In fact, most people come by to see ‘lil q and are quite friendly.

Why the ‘yes’ answer then? Because there’s still a struggle going on. Not everyone lives in the People’s Republic of My Town. Not everyone can get married, not everyone can adopt together and both be parents and have the same protections that I enjoy.  There are still people who think this is a choice, a phase, the result of some parental mistake, whatever.  There are still places in the country and around the world where no one cares if you’re being bullied, picked on, taunted, beaten – or worse – killed just because you’re gay.  The fact we’re still fighting for marriage equality when it doesn’t affect anyone’s lives but ours, when it has no bearing on straight marriages, their families, their children, or ironically, their divorce rate. When you think in the broader, global sense of community and not the insular local sense, you see that the haves are still a very small part of the whole.  There are far too many people who do not have basic rights for us to say ‘mission accomplished.’ [We all know how well that phrased worked out for W.]

In trying to word this answer, I remembered reading a statement about why we need gay pride events. It took a bit of searching, but I found it. This says it better then I did.  If you’re ever asked why again, show them this.   Comments welcome.  – AQG

http://queerlandia.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/screen-shot-2013-06-22-at-3-15-28-pm.png

Please click on over to Debbie McGowan’s site and read the other half of this week’s discussion.

http://www.debbiemcgowan.co.uk

About our Panelists

Larry Benjamin: Bronx-born wordsmith Larry Benjamin, is the author of the gay novels, Unbroken, and What Binds Us and the short story collection Damaged Angels. Larry will be hosting the discussion starting 9 June 2014

Twitter: @WriterLarry

Website: http://www.larrybenjamin.com

Rick Bettencourt: Rick Bettencourt is the author of NOT SURE BOYS, PAINTING WITH WINE and TIM ON BROADWAY. Rick hates to cook, and can often be seen eating out. He lives in the Tampa Bay area, with his husband and their dog, Bandit. Rick will be hosting the discussion starting 23 June 2014

Twitter: @rbettenc

Website: http://rickbettencourt.wordpress.com/

Brandilyn Carpenter: Brandilyn is the odd duck in this group. She owns an LGBTQ fiction focused review blog, Prism Book Alliance, and is the married mother of 3 young children. She is an advocate for equal rights and tirelessly promotes the gay fiction genre. Brandilyn will be hosting the discussion starting 16 June 2014

Twitter: @BrandilynRC

Website: http://www.prismbookalliance.com

Rob Colton: Rob Colton is a software developer by day, and avid reader of romance novels at night. A romantic at heart, he loves stories that feature big, burly men who find true love and happy endings. Rob will be hosting the discussion starting 16 June 2014 Twitter: @robcub32 Website: http://robcolton.com/

Andrew Q. Gordon: Andrew Q. Gordon lives in the Metro DC area with his husband and 2 year old daughter. While he enjoys most types of fiction, his current works include MM Fantasy, Paranormal and Contemporary Fiction.  Andrew will be hosting the discussion starting 2 June 2014

Twitter: @AndrewQGordon

Website: http://andrewqgordon.com/

Lane Hayes: Lane Hayes is a M/M author, 2013 Rainbow Award finalist for her first release Better Than Good, designer, reader, lover of chocolate, red wine & clever people. Lane will be hosting the discussion starting 23 June 2014

Twitter: @LaneHayes3

Website: http://lanehayes.wordpress.com/

Debbie McGowan: Debbie McGowan is based in Lancashire, England. She writes character-driven fiction, runs an independent publishing company, and lectures in social science. Sometimes she sleeps, too! Debbie will be hosting the discussion starting 2 June 2014

Twitter: @writerdebmcg

Website: http://www.debbiemcgowan.co.uk

Brandon Shire: Brandon Shire writes fiction about human intimacy and interactions. He loves chocolate and is a staunch advocate for homeless LGBT youth. Brandon will be hosting the discussion starting 9 June 2014

Twitter: @thebrandonshire

Website: http://brandonshire.com

Giveaway

Prizes (4 winners):

  • $ 10 Amazon GC, eBook Listening to Dust by Brandon Shire, & eBook Not Sure Boys by Rick Bettencourt
  • $ 10 Amazon GC, eBook Painting with Wine by Rick Bettencourt, & eBook from Andrew Q Gordon’s backlist
  • $ 10 Amazon GC, eBook Unbroken by Larry Benjamin, & eBook Champagne by Debbie McGowen
  • $ 10 Amazon GC, eBook from Rob Colton’s backlist, & eBook from Lane Hayes’ backlist

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

32 Comments

  1. skylar1776 says:

    My first Pride parade were last year in Chicago where I live. I went alone because my friends were all busy and as much as it sort of made me uncomfortable to be alone, I had a great time. I felt as a straight women I needed to be there to show my support. Actually everyday I feel the same way. I was feeling a bit not needed after Illinois passed the marriage equality law, but then came to realize there are other states, countries still struggling for these rights and my biggest concern for the safety of the LGBT youth is on going. I love seeing the progress that has been made and I’m happy to be part of the change taking place. I also love the quote you provided. I think it is spot on. I am also looking forward to everyone’s discussion each week. Great idea!

    • Skylar – you and all of us are still needed – there is still so much left to do. We, my generation build on the progress the last generation made and the one that follows us is building on ours. But it’s still a slog – even if we’re getting there slowly. From someone who has benefited greatly from the work of others, can I just say thank you.

    • lanehayes says:

      This year will actually be my first time at Pride. L.A. Pride is this weekend but if life gets too hectic (HS graduation) I’ll be in SF at the end of the month to catch that one. I’m very excited. I’m a mother of a 20yr old gay son, so I will be there to support. I doubt he’ll want to hang with me but I’m fine going alone too. Either way, I too am thrilled at the progress made and yet I know there is much to be done. As a parent I cannot fathom the horrors some LGBT teenagers face. My son is fortunate. He has a huge net of support and love, but he still struggles to a degree. We live in CA and the laws are in his favor, however there are pockets of intolerance and ugliness. That’s what needs to change.

      • My thoughts are that he’ll be happy to have his mum there for a time, at least until he and his friends want to do things he’ll be embarrassed for you to see 😛 To me, having parents who are supportive AND visible help those parents who are struggling but are afraid to be public in their support for fear of being ostracized themselves. It’s an import spoke in our wheel of support because it’s just one more legs the haters don’t have to stand on. So I at least will say thank you and you’re always welcome to hang with me, mike and ‘lil q 🙂

  2. Right on the money. I think we’re so ready to pat ourselves on the back and say ‘job well done’ that we forget all the work we still have yet to do.

    • Let me say that I some time slip into that ‘Mission Accomplished’ mentality and then I read what’s going on in other places and I realize we so not done. Thanks for reading and commenting. – AQG

  3. Rick Bettencourt says:

    Your response makes me remember that new sense of comfort I too felt walking the streets of Boston, way back when. You know you’ve come along way when you can experience that acceptance every day. I’ve since moved to Florida, and it’s like going back in time. My partner and I—we’re not married here—recently attended our town’s first gay pride. It was sparsely attended, but it was nice to see the gleam in the eyes of those at ease, in public, for the first time.

    • Hey Rick – There is that danger where you get complacent and think ‘things are pretty good’ and you move on and forget. That’s true here, but what about the rest of the state, country, world. As Lane pointed out – even in good states, there are pockets of bad – just as in unfriendly states, there are pockets of friendly. Chip by chip we bring them down until soon it won’t even be an issue. (or at least that’s my dream 🙂 )

  4. My first Pride was in the early 90s. A friend and I went to a reading at Powell’s and then took a walk and watched the parade, and when the end passed us we followed it and caught some music at the festival. Everyone we came across was smiling and friendly and overall it was a great experience. When I lived in the Bay Area I didn’t know anyone I even felt safe asking to cross the Bay with me and go to SF Pride, and was afraid to go by myself. I wondered why I’d made such a big deal out of it.

    So the next year I volunteered, because that’s what I do. And it was like being in a completely different world. I was treated like a tourist, like a party-crasher. Except for the folks I worked with, it well and truly sucked. I’ve done it again—a few times—but I think I’m done. The only way I’ll go back to a Pride event is if I happen to be dating a woman and she happens to want to go, because unless you ping everyone’s radar they don’t want you there. And this was in laid-back Portland. I’d hate to be a bisexual who “looks straight” (whatever that means) at LA or SF Pride.

    • Interesting view point – I suppose despite the push for inclusiveness, some don’t want it to extend to ‘our’ events. I have to say, that hasn’t been my experience with pride festivals in Philly, DC and NYC. No one asked to see your card if you attended, they were glad to have you – but again, that’s just my insular experience. Likewise, you’re always welcome to hang with me and my family if you’re in town for the festival here in DC. 🙂

  5. Great post – I can’t really add to what’s been said already. Yes, so much more to be done, and so easy to forget when viewing through the rose-tinted specs that come with living / working in an environment where it’s just not significant.

    • I wish I could say I didn’t lose sight of things for a time. Perhaps being a parent and especially having a daughter in a ‘man’s world’ I’ve suddenly become more focused on what we – Mike and I – can do to make it a better place for her. Not sure we’re doing all that much, but it’s sort of like the ant mentality- everyone pulling together makes the whole greater than the sum of the individual. That’s my theory and I’m sticking to it. 😀

  6. Allison says:

    My first Pride was last year in Philly. My husband and I volunteered with Equality PA to collect signatures for anti-discrimination legislation. I was a wreck, I don’t like talking to people on the best of days and having to walk up to complete strangers to ask for their signatures was very difficult. After we started getting positive responses and I had my statement ironed out I started having fun. We met a lot of great people that day and although I was exhausted by the end I am extremely happy we did it. Although PA finally passed marriage equality the legislation we were collecting signatures for still has not passed so yes, much progress has been made but there is still a long way to go.

    • It’s with the help of people like you that we chip away at the pointless things that needless hold others down. It’s easy to ignore when it doesn’t affect you, it’s much much harder to get involved when you’re fighting for someone else’s rights. which is why having folks like you and your husband is so important and appreciated. I wish I could go back to philly and see the festival. I’m sure it’s evolved to something I wouldn’t recognize from when I first went. Then again, if it hasn’t I’m afraid it might depress me because it will remind me of when I was so young a life time ago 🙂

  7. Shorty Chelle says:

    Love the post. I have never been to a Gay Pride Event. It’s not that I didn’t want to go it’s that I’m unable to go. I’m physically disabled so it’s hard for me to get around, I hardly go anywhere. But I think it’s a wonderful thing to have them. It makes people feel safe to be able to express their beliefs and who they are without fear of being discriminated against. Which should not be happening at all in my opinion.

    • I hope someday you get to go. I can be a fun and uplifting experience. But having tried to negotiate the last two in dc with an infant and a toddler, I can understand why it would be hard for you to get around. People do tend to get caught up in their own space and forget everyone else.

  8. I attended my first Pride by accident. I’d gone to visit friends in San Fran and wanted to see all the best parts of the city… And the next thing I knew there were all these glorious people everywhere. My friends had lived in the city (having moved up from LA) for all of a month, and had no idea what was going on. It’s fair to say we were all young, stupid, & under the influence of some mind expanding substances that may have wrecked havoc on our logic skills. My pals were mostly straight and terrified, and all wanted to go back to the safety of their new apartment.

    I did not.

    I spent a grand day getting ultra-crispy in the sunshine (no sun block of course) & meeting people from all over. I remember thinking no event on the east coast could ever be as wonderful, but having attended Pride events in NYC, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Atlanta, and Miami I really believe Pride is as much about where you find yourself physically in that moment as it is where you find yourself mentally & emotionally in that moment.

    Boy I hope that makes sense.

    Now that I’m much older, Pride, as you mentioned Andrew, has become a family event, something my husband, wife & I take our children to. And I do think it’s important & necessary. Because while sexuality is becoming more accepted, there are still road blocks in the way of total acceptance where “Love Is Love” is concerned. Believe me, all my family has to do is show affection in public, & we confuse everybody. Are we gay, straight, bi, what are we? Two men and a woman with children, and how dare we all be happy and love each other? So yes. There’s still room for Pride. Enjoy your events this year & be well. ~ Tucker

    • Thanks Tucker! As much as I’ll hope for a day when it’s not needed, I think I’d really miss going to these events. I suppose we could rename them, but I think I’d miss the energy – especially among those ‘newbies’ attending for the first or second time.

      Thanks again for stopping by.

      Andy

  9. Great post! I can’t wait to read the others

  10. I no longer remember the first gay Pride event I attended, but I remember my last. It was my friend Troy’s first. He begged me to take him. He was 21 had had been diagnosed with AIDS back when diagnosis was an almost immediate death sentence. No one paid much attention to the skinny black guy and his even skinnier young friend but I watched Troy carefully, he was so frail but so determined to march. Eventually I stopped watching him and started watching the joy and wonder on his young face. He’d grown up in a small town in Georgia and he was so young, I don’t think he ever truly believed that such a thing existed: men holding hands, waving rainbow flags, topless lesbians strutting, float after float of drag queens waving.

    We made it to the end of the march but by then Troy was too weak to walk any further. I remember calling a friend to come pick us up. Troy died that December the day after Christmas. I have always remembered the look of wonder and joy on his face at his first Pride march. And have always been grateful that he’d made it to that gathering of his–our–tribe

    • Larry, that is one of those stories that I’m not sure how to feel. On the one hand it is a beautiful story about how the festivals can affect and inspire people, but it is so sad.

      Thanks for sharing that. It’s a poignant reminder of where we’ve been and what we still need to do.

  11. JenCW says:

    I haven’t been to a Pride parade yet, but would love to go. I too think that with all the recent movement in the right direction that there is a chance to become complacent, but I don’t think we are there yet. Too things still need to change and the current momentum will help that.

    • Once upon a lifetime ago, I remember going to the parade and thinking how disappointing they were. How all you saw was drag queens, guys in leather, women with their tops off (eww, I mean I’m gay right?), guys in speeds dancing seductively. . . um wait, I think I liked that part – basically I wanted to see something more ‘normal.’ Then I read my history and learned what happened at stonewall and who it was that lead the way. It was the ones who were strong enough to be who they were and who they wanted, who were strong enough to be visible in ways you couldn’t misunderstand or ignore. I came to understand there wasn’t one ‘normal’ standard to apply and that wanting that was nothing more than wanting to be something I wasn’t. I realized that while these were extreme examples of our community, the important part was they were part of our community and were working to gain acceptance for everyone. Made the parades seem a whole lot different once I realized what they really meant.

  12. Carolyn says:

    Wonderful post, and I love the idea for this roundtable. Thank you to everyone sharing their thoughts. I’m looking forward to seeing what everyone shares in the weeks ahead.

    My own contribution is just to say that I love that Pride events exist now in so many places. Those people and places fortunate enough to have a long-standing tradition of events are the ones who have shown the way for areas all over. It brings me so much joy that things have gone from an event that makes people feel included to communities where you live ever day being so.

    • Carolyn, Sorry, how did I miss these?

      I will say that the idea for these was Larry’s (and maybe part Deb too), but I agree I love them because we get so many different voices.

      And I agree, the change these event have fostered is amazing. Even if it’s only a few lives at a time. I read somewhere that to the majority of youth of today sexual identity is barely a thought. To them it is so normal because they all know people, friends, relatives etc who are gay that to them it’s like hair color or height. I think that is partially due to the empowerment of these events that have gotten people to come out and show everyone they are just normal people who happen to be gay.

      Thanks for stopping by

      -AQG

  13. Rod B says:

    Great post!

  14. H.B. says:

    I’ve never been to a gay pride parade although I’ve come across one that was happening on my way to somewhere else (i don’t do so well in crowds and this one was huge). It looked like spectacular fun but not something I think I could deal with. If I ever get comfortable in a large crowd I think I would love to watch and march along in the parade.

    • HB

      Crowds can be daunting, I agree. What you should do is enlist a friend or three and go down as a small group. They are fun because of the energy and just all round good mood everyone seems to be in. I suspect they were more dynamic when they were the one day a year people could be out loud and proud and not worry about being beaten up, (or at least less likely) but they are still very up beat and powerful – even if you’re straight.

      As for the crowd, just go wander around and soak it in. You don’t need to engage others to do that. 🙂

      Thanks for reading and commenting.

      -AQG