For My Brother, It’s All ’Gay Shame.’ Shame on Him
While marching in this year’s New York Gay Pride Parade, I had the pleasure of holding the banner for Empire State Pride Agenda, our statewide LGBT lobbying group. Seeing the overwhelming welcome in the streets of my beloved city, I felt honored in being a representative of such an important organization while also demonstrating my own Gay Pride.
It was especially heartwarming to walk on Christopher Street at the end of the parade and have so many spectators reach out to shake my hand or hug me. That sense of love and affirmation is something that will stay with me for some time. In fact, I cannot think of a more celebratory and joyous occasion to affirm our gayness and unity.
Memories of my first Gay Pride parade in Albany, N.Y., way back in 1972 came flooding back to me. Chanting "Two, Four, Six, Eight, Gay is Just as Good as Straight!" and "One, Two, Three, Four, We Won’t Take it Any More" instilled me with enormous pride and an unfamiliar feeling of acceptance and support for who I truly was; a young gay man standing up for himself for the very first time.
On that day so many years ago, I not only marched with hundreds of courageous and amazing gay men, lesbians, and transgender men, I also attended my first gay dance following a pot luck dinner and ended the night in my first gay bar, where the doorman and I became fast friends. How could I ever top that?
Unfortunately, not every day is Gay Pride. For gay men, lesbians and the transgendered, nearly every day brings a fresh bitch slap of reality as to how many people view us. The reality of that "other" world, the much bigger world, came crashing down on me the very day after Gay Pride. It happened during my daily phone call to my ninety-one year-old mother.
It was not my mother who answered her phone but my older brother, who was visiting for the weekend, along with his wife and baby. What did surprise and saddened me was my brother’s response to my recounting of the events of the past day. As soon as I got the word "gay" out, my brother interrupted with, "I don’t want to hear anything about Gay Pride or gay marriage. You know how I feel about both of those topics! "
Immediately, I a wave of emotion flooded through me and I could feel my face reddening with anger. "What about Gay Pride?" I thundered back. "Don’t you want me to feel proud of whom I am? Do you want us all to go back into the closet? "
He responded just as quickly -- and loudly, "I’m just sick and tired of hearing about it every day and gay marriage is something I simply refuse to accept!"