I’m not at the Pride Parade right now. Which is maybe a little bit lame to some of you, but how much lamer would it be if I were there, sitting on the sidewalk, blogging? I went to San Francisco Pride once. It was my first summer in San Francisco, and like Halloween in the Castro, the Pride Parade was something every Bay Area transplant had to try out. Also like Halloween in the Castro, I decided that I didn’t need to go again.
I’ve spent a lot of time making excuses for not doing things like the Pride Parade, or any number of other loud, crowded activities. In fact, it’s not that complicated—I don’t like activities that are loud and crowded. I make some exceptions: San Diego Comic-Con (they pay me), big concerts (Xanax). But for the most part, I prefer the company of one or two others to EVERY GAY IN SAN FRANCISCO. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with this, but there are certain times of the year when my choice to keep things mellow comes into question. And surely San Francisco Pride, queer person Mecca, is one of those “how can you NOT?” events.
Of course, that forces me to question my true reasons for avoiding any Pride festivities. Surely the sheer number of people and noise and potential for sweating are part of the equation, but is there not more to it than that? And yes, I’m forced to admit, there are other reasons why I prefer to feel proud in my own quiet, personal way. The first and last time I went to the Pride Parade, I didn’t feel comfortable in my own skin. Not because I’m gay—there was never a time when I felt less like a minority. I felt out of place because I’m me. I looked around and I looked inward, and none of it made any sense to me.
I could go on a long rant about body image in the gay community, but do you really want to hear me yammer on about my ish? (Irrelevant. I don’t want to yammer on about them.) My avoidance of crowds, on a larger scale, is part distaste for sensory overload, and part a feeling that I don’t fit in. Would being a waifish twink make me more comfortable? Maybe. Probably not. I have always felt a little outside of it all (“it” used in the most general sense possible), and that’s as much a part of my identity as my Jewish heritage and penchant for reality TV competitions.
It’s frustrating, sure, but I hope it doesn’t sound like I begrudge others for their Pride experience. I am truly thankful that Pride exists at all, and that in San Francisco, queer people are encouraged to be as queer as they want to be. The more this country accepts a conventional understanding of homosexuality—slowgoing as it may be—the more we need reminders that some of us want to be freaks. I’m passionate about marriage equality, but I recognize that others dismiss it as an unnecessary heteronormative convention. It’s about choice. And I feel lucky to live in an area that embraces the full span of the queer spectrum.
I guess all of this is just to say, I’m here, I’m queer, I’m used to it. I wouldn’t want anyone to think that my reluctance to participate in Pride reflects any shame or discomfort—at least not discomfort with my sexuality. I get down on myself for just about everything, but my sexual identity is, in my mind, one of the best things about me. I celebrate myself in my own way, and I encourage everyone to do the same. If the Pride Parade makes you happy, then go watch the parade. Or march, if you’re into that sort of thing. Be proud and be loud, even if your rebel yell isn’t a literal shout so much as a blog post.