With June behind us so is the month we have designated as LGBT pride month across the globe. As some of the largest gay pride celebrations in the world came to completion this past weekend in cities like New York, San Francisco, Chicago and Houston, I found myself contemplating the many ways in which we express our pride as individuals and as a community -- some of them big and bold, some of them subtle and individual.
One big and bold experience that stands out in my mind as an expression of LGBT pride over the past month is the performance I saw by the Gay Men's chorus of Los Angeles in mid-June. The Gay Men's Chorus has been singing about love, pride and equality for over 30 years. During these 30 years it has built an international reputation for musical excellence while remaining deeply rooted in service to the Los Angeles community.
This was no different on the evening of June 19 when they performed their latest bold and innovative concert at Avalon in Hollywood. This show was an epitome of an expression of love and pride. The 226 men sang their hearts out in a retrospective called L'Amour, which consisted of love songs from movies and shows like Moulin Rouge, Strictly Ballroom and Rent.
I witnessed in the performance the reflection of the love that dwells deep within. The question is, how do we as LGBT people express our pride, not just on specifically designated days of the year, but on an individual daily basis all year long?
For me personally, the realization this question brought forward is that at one time it was important for me to be out there marching, and "showing" my pride. I came out at a very early age in the late '80s, a time when a lot less people were coming out of the closet in high school.
It was a time when Ronald Reagan still had not publicly said words like AIDS/HIV and our community was still experiencing profound devastation from this disease. During that time and into my early twenties it was important for me to be out in the street more standing in solidarity with my LGBT brothers and sisters "demonstrating" our gay pride. As an adult, I realize that pride is not really an event for me -- pride is just another word that expresses the love for myself and others I have come to know, which dwells within me.
Therefore, the true essence of pride is not an event (of course our public celebrations may still be wonderful and fun to attend). For me, true pride is determined by how I choose to lead my life on a daily basis, openly, compassionately and fully expressed.
I wanted to know how others also express their pride on an individual daily basis so I broadcast the question. Here is a sample of some of the answers I received:
Nate Town in Madison, Wisconson
Back in the day (in the 90s) when I first came out I did the whole Pride Parade march thing, wore Pride rings and shouted my gayness to the heavens.
Now that I'm nearly 40, I celebrate my LGBT pride each and every day -- by being a openly gay male who willingly participates in my straight community. I'm the only man in my 50-member neighborhood garden club, and proud of it. I'm the only openly gay man at work, and proud of it. My Twitter handle is Fancy_Lad and I make no apologies to my social media peers if they think it's odd.
If someone makes a homophobic remark near me, I don't back down nor do I pick a fight or get confrontational. I make sure the individual knows I'm gay and that homophobia equals ignorance. I try my best to lead by example, knowing that many homophobes are the product of their upbringing and once they actually get to know someone who is gay, start to see things in a different light. My family (from rural Maine) has come to see the light, and if they can change, anyone can.
That's how I express my LGBT pride.
I have two moms, and I express my LGBT pride by telling my students and friends (and total strangers) this fact on a daily basis, as well as by writing about my mothers for magazines, newspapers and in books.
Nancy Schimmel, in Berkeley, C A
I'm 75, and my knees won't let me march any more, so everyday is what I do. I'm reading a book I recommend to you, called Covering: The Hidden Assault on Our Civil Rights by Kenji Yoshino. He talks about the expectation in the professions and on the street that we be gay but not flaunt it, black but speak white, Muslim but not wear a scarf, etc, which is a more subtle form of discrimination, harder to fight (especially in the courts).
I came out back in 1974 -- it was a big year for coming out -- and of course I've been coming out ever since, as one does. I live in Berkeley, so that's not too hard. Back in the 70s and 80s when I was traveling and performing a lot in the Midwest, I would not have worn a rainbow pin on the road. Now I wear a rainbow dove pin when I wear the jacket it lives on, I don't disguise the gender of my partner if she comes up in conversation, we hold hands in public when we're in the mood, kiss goodbye on the front porch sometimes and always at airports. I volunteer at my neighborhood school, singing and telling stories.
On a daily basis I express my LGBT pride by respecting others around me no matter their background, affiliations or choices. I try to treat others as I want them to treat me!
I call upon you to consider how, beyond one month out of the year, you express on an individual daily basis, LGBT pride. And of course, if you choose keep going to public events where that pride is reflected outwardly. The next performance of the Gay Men's Chorus will be at Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles on Saturday, August 21, 8pm (www.gmcla.org)
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