“Pride, Prejudice and the Power of Purpose” by Pheonyx Roldan Smith
I love this chakra poster because it speaks to a lot of the work/play I do in the world today. However, I also received awareness of this photo on the heels of the recent Atlanta Gay Pride celebration (October 12-14th, 2012). Atlanta is one of the many homes for me. My biological family lives here. Many members of my Spirit family also live here. And curiously, I find myself here at this specific time and place when there’s A LOT of other gatherings taking place and have been brought to my attention. Interestingly enough, I had all but completely forgotten about the annual gay pride celebrations here in Atlanta during the month of October.
I attended my very first Atlanta Gay Pride weekend in the summer of 1996. I was 24 at the time. Young, eager, excited and so very naive (only by way of experiences, mind you. =)~ in so many ways. However, since then I’ve been to an innumerable number of pride celebrations, gay and straight alike, having had made Atlanta home for 15 years, with nearly 10 of those years spent with my former (and yes, gay too) partner.
This past Saturday, at some point I noticed a few posts on facebook touting the weekend’s gay/lesbian/bi/transgender (GLBT) celebrations. I was a bit surprised at first because the event used to be held in the summer time… July or August, if I recall. However, for practical and/or financial reasons and to gain further access to Piedmont Park (Atlanta’s version of NY’s Central Park but on a much smaller scale), the Gay Pride Committee moved the three day celebration to October only a couple or so years ago. I’ve been gone from Atlanta pretty much for the past two going on three years having moved to Asheville,NC in the summer of 2010 and pretty much traveling non-stop since 2011. I now only come in and out of Atlanta and Asheville between outward bound journeys to reconnect with family and friends, do a little bit of spirit work and refuel before heading back out. And so it wasn’t in my current awareness to associate October with “Pride Weekend”, as those in the community simply like to call it.
Now, one would think that having been away for so long and finding myself suddenly back in Atlanta just in time for the big Saturday night Pride celebrations, that I would be quick to don the nearest rainbow cape, throw on my best form-fitting dance floor duds. and my trusty set of glow sticks and head to the nearest club for a night filled with decadent dancing and man-meeting! But actually, and much to my own surprise, that would not be the case. Nope. In fact, the first thought that came to mind was, “Oh that’s nice. Who knew?” And the rest of my intentions remained with taking some much-needed quiet time for myself and to tackle a task list of somewhat epic proportions relating to a few more “spiritually inclined” events taking place in Atlanta and Asheville, NC during the next few weeks. I wrote more about that in my last travel journal update posted just a few days ago (visit http://theocgproject.com/ocg365/travel-journal and check out the 10/12/12 update if you care to read more).
Sunday was the big parade day, and even then I found myself not feeling energetically drawn to the “gay ghetto” of Midtown, Atlanta to be amongst 70,000 to 80,000 of my closest GLBT brothers/sisters and the straight people who love them. No, instead I was very much at peace with the completion of that cycle of my journey of accepting myself exactly as I am meant to be without all the hooplah. At least for now. And though I have no desire and need to hide it, I didn’t feel the need to celebrate it any differently than I already do on a day to day basis. “Been there, done that,” I thought to myself. Didn’t feel the need to repeat old patterns for the sake of a false sense of unity.
“Whoa! Wait! Hold on now! What do you mean by false sense of unity?!” I can hear some of you say. At least the ones who are paying attention.. (wink-wink). Gay Pride is not about a false sense of unity, is it? I mean, people come together… gays, straights, young, old, married, single, etc, etc., etc. It even draws out the Bible-bangers for a day long ritual of sign-waving and finger-pointing hoping that their hate speech will some how make a difference and maybe even “save” a poor, naïve, self-loathing-yet-self-seeking, little gay boy or girl’s life.
Lesbians ride bikes topless. Former (and current) gay gun-totin’ police and military personnel take to the streets arm and arm with lovers, partners, family and friends. Drag queens in full regalia take to the streets in chiffon and glittered pumps, and are revealed in the daylight that one time in the year, unless you count the Easter Sunday Drag Races in the Spring. And companies and corporations (aka “sponsors”) tout their logos, products and wears all over the place in the name of equal opportunity mass marketing strategies. Of course, the numerous non-profits and community support organizations are also present to garner volunteers, clients, dollars and awareness to their cause. Then there’s the seemingly never-ending onslaught of performances (a queen has got to work, you know?), music (some of the best in the industry), lights (the gays know how to light up the darkness like nobody’s business indeed!), drinking (often), dancing (readily), drugs (sometimes… hey it’s a festival. get real.), sex (Pride weekend is one of the least repressed/oppressed environments some gays will ever experience)… and so much more. And the beat goes on and on and on… and on… and on… dot, dot, dot.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s beautiful. Or at least it can be. But every year, and for the last three to four decades since the first annual gay pride celebration took place, and in fact, this year’s was Atlanta’s 42nd Annual Pride Festival, very little of how the weekend plays out has changed. The same parade. Many of the same people, most of them just 20, 30 or even 40 years older now. Of course the young ones still come out in droves, but it holds a completely different purpose in many ways for the young generations of today. But it’s still pretty much the same types of parties and gatherings. A few new groups here and there, but in many ways Pride has become yet another excuse for one big party. It’s sort of like the Cinco de Mayo or Mardi Gras of the GLBT movement. Of course, it’s pretty much given that if you have “the gene” then any excuse to swash and buckle is just part of the deal for those sprinkled with a little fairy dust at birth. NOT that there’s anything wrong with that. Hey, I’m the first to jump on the party bus… if it’s a party worth jumpin’ on board for.
And I realize that I AM now in my 40th year. That first pride celebration for me was 16 years ago and I’ve partied like it’s 1999 I don’t know how many times. But it’s the new millennia. The 21st Century, in fact. And things have and ARE shifting. However, some of the gatherings that began in days of old, 30 to 40 years ago are still working in some really old-paradigm energy in ways of doing things. I’m even willing to bet that half of you reading this right now have probably been around for only about half as long. Give or take six-pack of years, of course.
Yet, the “need” for a gay pride parade, or ANY pride parade for that matter, these days is significantly less. When the movement began, it was driven by a need to address social and political inequality. Remember? First it was political (the never-ending story), then religious (still working on that), then economic (slavery versus industry), then women’s rights (watch out, mama!), then blacks (power of the people!), and then gays (heeyyyyyyy, how’r you doin’?!) LOL… I joke only slightly because we have come so far, and yet in all of those areas we still struggle as a nation, let alone as a race of human beings living in a “free country”. Even in this modern era, many who shout from the rafters for recognition and equanimity fail to honor, love and accept one another FULL AND FANCY FREE without having to come up with some declaration of domestic or social status by the droves in order to feel safe among the mass minority turned weekend majority in the hundreds of thousands shouting, “We’re here! We’re (insert your own self-identifier)! Get used to it!”
Thus, I choose no. Because eventually, if you are doing the work, the energy of what something WAS simply does not serve you anymore. And by “you”, I mean me. And I was happy to stay at home and take care of tasks and have my own little parade of thoughts and memories play across the film screen of my mind. I find gratitude in what it offered and allowed me to do, be and have all those years. But now, I feel, it’s time for something new. For me. That’s all.
And thus, as the facebook photos and comments came in through the news feed on this Monday morning, I enjoyed living the weekend vicariously through many of my GBLT friends, many of whom I haven’t seen or spoken to in person in ages, as they posted pics and commentaries from their weekend. But then, I came across this following post. I’ll admit, I usually see one or two of these types of post-event comments every year, but this time it hit me differently. I see things a little differently these days. And that’s a good thing, but here’s how the conversation played out. Names have been edited and unlinked to protect the innocent. If you know who they (or you!) are by the profile pics, kudos for a keen eye! But who they are does not much matter for the purpose of this writing. Carry on…
On Monday, October 15th, Bill updated his facebook status: Soooooo yestersday watching the parade I noticed somehow a polygamy sect managed to jump in on our parade. Here’s the deal..I love how accepting the Gay and Lesbian community is..but don’t you think we have our own battles to fight and win before we start letting those people muddy our message?? I mean really…who let them in??? 5 hours ago near Atlanta, GA (public) 12 people like this.
Brian wrote: I thought it was polygamy too, but someone said it was polyamory, which is a little better. 3 hours ago via mobile • Like
Lee wrote: wasn’t that polyamory not polygamy? 3 hours ago • Like
George wrote: Polyamory (from Greek πολύ [poly], meaning “many” or “several”, and Latin amor, “love”) is the practice, desire, or acceptance of having more than one intimate relationship at a time with the knowledge and consent of everyone involved. I’ll be on the Monogamy Float next year 3 hours ago • Like •
Sean wrote: i think they probably fall under the “queer” category which is a part of LGBTQ, the parade is for all these people not just”gay” and “lesbian”. 2 hours ago • Like • 2
Deejae wrote: Polyamory is better I guess. Lol 2 hours ago via mobile • Like
James wrote: I thought the EXACT same thing, Bill! 2 hours ago • Like • 1
Kerry wrote: Seems like their message is – love who you love, what’s wrong with that? 2 hours ago • Like
Craig wrote: When the people on Poly whatever float add a bar of soap and a toothbrush to their repertoire, maybe then I’ll take them seriously. 2 hours ago via mobile • Like
Jonathan wrote: Look up the two. There’s no significant difference between them. Both involve having multiple intimate partners at a time as their core philosophy. Polymory even allows for marriage. It’s a distinction in search if a difference. 2 hours ago via mobile • Like
Deejae wrote: Right. 2 hours ago via mobile • Like
Kiki wrote: why you hatin on the bi’s? 2 hours ago via mobile • Like
Bill wrote: Are they bi? I’m confused KiKI… about an hour ago • Like
Deejae wrote: Me 2. about an hour ago via mobile • Like
I love the educational commentary around the meaning of “polygamy” versus “polyamory” which I found hopeful and somewhat enlightening, but I still felt pressed to say something. Usually, I let these types of things go and allow them to work themselves out themselves without any need to chime in and stir or create a great debate about it. It is what it is and eventually (at least I hope) we will all get there… wherever “there” is. However, I felt compelled to share some words beginning to flow off the heartmind…
Pheonyx wrote: It will be nice when we no longer need a “gay pride” parade and we can just have a “human pride” parade where none of it matters and everyone is celebrated. Live and let live… and Love… and Be. Don’t forget the forest for the gay trees. I believe that it’s time for even the gay community to evolve. There’s still quite a bit of “stuck energy” in the “us versus them” old paradigm mentality way of thinking. Just my two cents. “My life is a gay parade every day!” I told a friend yesterday when asked if I was going to midtown for Sunday’s festivities. And I march in that celebration daily with all walks of life… gay, straight, bi, curious, confused, convinced, monogamous, polyamorous, male, female and all the ones in between. Let’s try a new concept, shall we? Be the change we ARE in the world, instead of still living in the consciousness that anything is lacking or has to go against a perceived status quo. Where ALL are welcome no matter what, who and how they want to celebrate their human BE-ingness with others. Now THAT’S a celebration I will be most happy to support. THAT’S a celebration that I’ll strap myself in leather and sequin and carry a feathery baton shouting “VIVA L’AMORE UNCONDITIONAL!” from the top of my lungs… and never stop walking. and never ever stop walking. ♥, Pheonyx about an hour ago • Like • 3
So, there it is. ‘Nough said. Just wanted to share. And how did I wrap up my own little special personal people pride parade day? Well, my “gay wife”, Laurie (LOL.. she’s straight actually, but that sounds SO much prettier than “fag hag”) and my soulsisterlovahfriend (one of many), Shereen and I got together, tossed back a Sunday sippin’ drinks and shared a meal on a streetside patio in East Atlanta, far from the colorful Midtown crowd of thousands. Yet, I enjoyed another little parade of just every day folks walking and driving by. Some even paraded themselves up onto the same patio where we sat dressed in apparent pre-Halloween costumes. Well, I don’t want to assume… perhaps they dress like zombies every day and this was just another Sunday for them. However, it was amusing and yet seemingly quite… well, for lack of a better word… completely normal. At one point, I admired a heavily tattooed man sitting at the bar wearing a lovely set of rainbow-feathered bird wings on his back. I wish now I would have asked for his picture, had I known I would be writing this today.
In the end, Laurie, Shereen and I sat and talked and talked and talked about Life and the many wonderful and trying experiences it has to offer. We talked about our own journeys and the journeys of those we love. We talked about our views on how the world is quickly shifting and changing all around us, and our place amidst all that massive change. We talked about support structures and self-care boundaries. We celebrated with food and drink and laughter and topped it all off with a yummy slice of rainbow cake with just the right amount of cream cheese icing, and a sumptuous cup of rich java brew.
I recognized how looking back upon the significant events of our own lives and appreciating the many wonderful opportunities being presented to each of us here in this present now is like watching our own little beautiful parade unfold and stretch out before us. And what am I’m most proud of? Making it this far. For honestly, there was a time when I wasn’t sure I would. But here I AM, and I’m here to stay… and go… and come back again… and flow. For now.
I love, appreciate and celebrate each and every one of you. Especially Bill, who helped bring this writing into being with his own reflection, and is one of the beings I most love and appreciate when it comes to memories of “those good ole days’ back in the late 90’s and early 2000’s. Every year (and even daily) the party of my life changes. And over those years, many of the people with whom I celebrate my life have also changed. And every year the parade route shifts just a little bit. Well, a lotta bit during these most recent years for certain. Even the costumes and the customs change and grow more and more beautiful and celebratory with each year. Sometimes the parade is a parade of one, sitting solely in a cottage in a faraway land in the middle of some rice field. But wherever I AM, IT IS… this thing called Life. And I have come to love it and everyone in it. They may not always love or even like me, but that makes no difference. The one thing we all have is Time.. until we don’t. So, honor it and celebrate it daily.
And if you need a big weekend to do it up right and be totally out there (pun intended) once or more a year, then by all means GO DO IT! But don’t forget that it really doesn’t matter. Everybody is exactly the same… same insecurities, same fears, same issues with love, self-worth and acceptance. That also means though that everyone has the same potential for immense personal growth, transition, self-awareness and celebration.
There really is very little difference between you, me and that guy or girl over there. We’re all just seeking to create and be here in the world in a more significant and special way. And whether you share a bed or even a life with a man, woman, dog, cat or a stack of really good books, it’s all good. There’s room enough for all of us in the world to be exactly who we are… TOGETHER. Not separate. Not different. Really, it’s more like 99.9% the same no matter what is perceived or preferred from the outside.
I love you. Keep celebrating the party and the Parade of Life that follows a path set forth from within. See you at the next big celebration, wherever that will Be. Until then, party on until the break of a brand new dawn!
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