Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Representing Pride... Is Gay Pride perpetuating stereotypes?

     I was doing some research when I came across this "Letter to the Editor" from a Michigan woman:
"GAY PRIDE: Stop perpetuating stereotype
I am a winter resident of Arizona, and a lesbian from Michigan. I attended the Phoenix Gay Pride Festival, an event that celebrates the many LGBT organizations that serve the Phoenix community.
Although I was not personally offended, I was NOT proud of the LGBTs who were clad only in their underwear or were wearing overtly sexually suggestive clothes.
In the crowd I noticed straights, some with young children. Perhaps they were there to support a family member, to learn more about my community or maybe just curious. Whatever the case, what they saw only continues to perpetuate the stereotype of gays as sexual deviants.
How proud are you now?
Pat Witek, Apache Junction"
     I think that Pat's comments are telling of tensions that may exist between generations of gay and lesbian people - how do young gay and lesbian people today choose to represent themselves and their gay or lesbian identities verses older generations? Maybe Pat is just a very socially conservative person? 

    At any rate, I think it is important to consider her upset with the Pride event that she attended. Weather or not Pat is a really conservative person or there exists some generational divide, I agree with her that many Pride festivals do tend to focus on highly sexualized portrayals of the gay and lesbian community, which consequently tend perpetuate deviant stereotypes of the community.  I sympathize with Pat when she notices the straight couples and the children in the crowd, "Perhaps they were there to support a family member, to learn more about my community or maybe just curious. " In places with restrictive social and political climates for gay and lesbian expression, I think that is even more important to portray the full range of gay and lesbian identity and experience rather than just stereotypical image people outside the community have come to expect. 

The letter was published on April 29, 2010 in the East Valley Tribune.


1 comment:

  1. Speaking of Pride parades, I recently came across this collection of photos from the 1977 and 1978 San Francisco pride parades. It's notable that they don't seem particularly deviant; I didn't notice any underwear-clad paraders.