As we jump into June and Pride Month, I can't help but reflect back on my very first Pride Parade in New York well over 15 years ago.
I was standing in front of Stonewall with some friends from New Hope, PA. It was 90 degrees in the shade that day, and we were anxiously waiting to see the parade turn the corner onto Christopher Street so that the festivities could begin. Sure, we had already started to celebrate, but I had never actually experienced Pride before so I wanted to see the infamous parade.
Then suddenly, after waiting for what seemed like a very long time, the parade turned the corner, the motorcycles boomed and the crowd came alive. I could feel my emotions swell up, literally all the way up from my feet, as a rush of tears streamed down my face.
I had never seen that many gay people in one place before in my life! Having recently come out, and feeling somewhat alone in my own world, this was quite an amazing feeling.
We've all come a long way since then, that's for sure... my current home state of PA just denounced the ban on same-sex marriage as many others have also acknowledged equality.
As a result, I think it's time to drop a few words from our united vocabulary... words that worked for a while but just don't seem to be relevant anymore.
Openly gay: a term that has been used to describe many "out" people through the years, including me in publication when I launched the first print ad for Tylenol targeting the gay community. I guess at one point it meant prideful, but I think it's time to get rid of it.
Partner: While it was the only way we could describe our "significant other" at the time, it's just so cold, sterile and honestly confusing. Business partner or life partner!? I guess it was better than "boyfriend," but thankfully we can replace that now with spouse, husband or wife (at least in some places). Although admittedly I still know a lot of people who like this one, I find it outdated.
Gay husband: I have to say that this phrase has always bothered me. This is when a straight woman has a BFF who is a gay man, and they are so close that it's almost as if they are married. I am sure it's meant with love, but the problem is that it puts the gay person in a completely supportive role, almost like he's the family pet. And what about the woman's actual husband? Is he chopped liver? Although it's not meant to be, I think it's somewhat disrespectful. Maybe it's just me though because I know a lot of people who use the term.
Coming out: I'm wondering if this should go away too. It's an intensely meaningful phrase, but is it outdated? Isn't it now more about understanding yourself and who you are, less about hiding? I'd like to think so.
And not soon enough... hopefully we can get rid of "gay marriage." There's no such thing. There's no gay food, no gay car, no gay house and IMHO no gay marriage. It's marriage, a professed love between two adults who possess a set of equal rights under the law.
We are living in a different world, thankfully, and while I understand and lived in a time when these phrases were helpful and meaningful, I feel like they have fortunately lost their meaning as we have progressed as a society.