Why Gay Pride Still Matters And Isn't Just About Parades And Parties

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Israeli drag queens and go-go dancers dance on a truck during the annual gay pride parade in the Israeli coastal city of Tel Aviv on June 13, 2014. AFP PHOTO/JACK GUEZ (Photo credit should read JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images) | JACK GUEZ via Getty Images

By Mary Malia for YourTango.com

We call it Gay Pride. A series of events that happen in cities big and small that celebrates being gay in a straight world. It's a powerful symbolic action that started after the 1969 Stonewall Riots in New York City when gays fought back against police brutality.

Since then Gay Pride, which is usually the whole month of June, has expanded around the globe. This celebration of life, love and liberty isn't just about parades and partying. It's about the gay community being visible and belonging to a community, a town, a city, a nation and the world.

It's about spreading hope that not only are things getting better but things will continue to improve because we won't forget the battles, the lives lost and the pain suffered that now affords us a growing list of equal rights in the United States. But let's not forget places like Russia, India or Uganda that have criminalized being gay or doing anything that publicizes the LGBT lifestyle.

Pride matters because it's not always obvious that our world is built around straight privilege; which says it's ok that the top NFL draft can kiss his girlfriend but our gay professional sports hero, Michael Sam is doing something wrong by kissing his boyfriend on television. That kind of controversy needs to end. Gay Pride helps.

Same sex marriage rights are in part the result of Gay Pride. When Pride parades, events, movies, parties and discussions happen, LGBT people are seen for more than just a caricature of who we are. We are seen as real people: mothers, fathers, sons and daughters. Funny, silly or serious we become more than just a shadow to be afraid of.

The first time I attended a Pride Parade after coming out was a deeply meaningful experience for me. Walking in that parade wasn't just about having fun; it was a declaration of personal self-acceptance. It was a declaration that I really was a part of the LGBT community and I didn't want to hide it anymore. It was an amazing feeling to spend a whole day and evening hanging out with this mixed tribe of LGBT people who were celebrating being out and open about themselves.

It was empowering. And today as I sit in Provincetown, Mass. enjoying a peaceful library space to write this post, I'm in awe of the community that has been created here.

There's pride in being out and open. Pride that comes from being able to hold your lover's hand openly as you walk down the street. And in most of the USA, it takes a Pride Parade for LGBT couples to be able to do that.
Gay Pride is about caring and responsibility. We do care for our community and we want to express that it is important. We want our community to kick shame to the curb and celebrate the amazing lives we are living. We want to take pride in our community activism, take pride in our relationships and take pride in ourselves as individuals.

Gay Pride is the celebration of life, human rights and ultimately the right to love whoever we want. That is always worth celebrating.

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This article originally appeared on YourTango.com: "Openly Out: Why Gay Pride Matters"

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