Pride extremism isn’t something that you encounter every day, but it’s out there and ready to strike at any moment. Choosing to abstain from pride events was not an easy personal decision, but it came with a good amount of thought. For one, most media portrayal of pride events only serves to further propagate the negative stereotypes of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals by showcasing LGBT as a fetish culture. Second, there should be no collective pride in sexuality, but rather it should be focused inward on self-acknowledgement and acceptance. Both of these reasons for my abstinence from pride events and LGBT groups have had a negative effect on the community as a whole and the reflection that it makes on others. While there is no doubt that LGBT groups have beneficial effects on their members by providing a support network for individuals, ultimately the cause appears outwardly alienating and extreme to the outsider. Even if unintentional, the attitude that a majority of the “mainstream” LGBT community portrays only serves to distance LGBT individuals further from acceptance by exhibiting a form of pride radicalism and internal conflict.
I was recently part of an online debate over the acceptance of LGBT allies as belonging to the protective umbrella of nondiscrimination clauses put forth by many educational and workplace constitutions. Overwhelmingly, many LGBT individuals did not support the inclusion of “ally” in these protective clauses, citing that heterosexual supporters of the LGBT community need no guaranteed protection under these clauses. I couldn’t disagree more; LGBT individuals and their allies are both in need of protection regarding their viewpoints on many issues. To isolate allies by saying that they should not be included in such corporate laws is ridiculous and selfish of the LGBT community. Coming from a community that stresses equality among all individuals, rejecting this protection toward others is hypocritical and makes the community look like it enjoys playing the victim.
Placing sexuality on a pedestal as the defining characteristic of an individual is what the LGBT community as a whole works to remove from a stereotypical standpoint, but in a strange turn of events, they define themselves by that sexuality. Who you love should not become you, your life or your career. In fact, sexuality should be the least important aspect of your life, and by moving it to the forefront, issues in pride extremism occur. In an almost cultlike mentality, modern movements in sexuality and gender aim to pick out every miniscule detail of society and label it as inherently sexist or homophobic. This is where difficulties arise because there are many out there who feel the way that I do, yet are reluctant to join an official community because of such pride extremism and self-victimization.
The most helpful thing that the LGBT community could do in an effort to stop the negative portrayal and alienating mindset is to regain some consciousness of reality. There is no elitism in the world, no group that deserves more respect because of who they are or are not. It’s time to take a step back and really look at the situation. Are we going to continue to be the thorn in the side of detractors just as they are to us? Should we continue to congregate and display pride when the mass media portray our actions and identity as a fetish culture? Finally, should we really be concerned about placing our sexuality at the forefront of our lives for all to see?
You might have different answers to those very questions, but just because you speak for a majority in the LGBT community doesn’t mean your answers are the best. Sexuality and gender cultures have morphed into an exclusive club for the elite; it’s almost as if the message of acceptance and understanding has been translated to “conform or be cast aside.”
Vaughn Shirey is a freshman computer science major at Drexel University. He can be contacted at [email protected]
Queerview publishes biweekly in weeks 3, 5, 7 and 9 .