This year's Gay Pride was very different from other Gay Prides.
I've always had a range of thoughts when viewing Gay Pride. I usually fall between disturbed and elated, which is clearly a wide range. I usually feel a sadness from what I perceive as a lack of self-esteem gay men and women have internalized from years of systematic exclusion and messages that they are not worthy of love, loving oneself and hope for a future.
Historically, the broad message delivered by religious groups has been that self-realized gay people are not welcome or worthy in the eyes of God. Government had declared their sexual acts as criminal. The mental health industry, until the mid-1960s, called homosexuality a mental illness and administrated shock therapy to "cure" it.
For the last 20 years Gay Pride in NYC centered around the steroid-gay-men, the drag queens, the AIDS organizations -- then add in a lot of drunk people.
This weekend was a very different Gay Pride Day. You could feel a sense of acceptance that had never occurred... ever. There was a real sense of pride, not coming from a place of anger, where you need to shout that you need to be seen because society wanted you to be closeted for hundreds of years, which inevitably comes across all messy. There was a sense of acceptance from the U.S. government, saying we can now build a life together with equal rights. There was a sense of self-esteem that spread throughout the crowd in such a profound way that I realized that in years to come, the range of emotions from the need to be angry or closeted, to shouting you're gay, to hiding in drugs and sex, won't need to be there.
From now on a gay youth of 18 could ask their boyfriend out, and know that if they wanted to, they could marry. They could court, date, build a relationship and marry. I'm happy for the youth of today -- they can now avoid the pain that every gay adult has gone through. It still may take a few more generations for the healing to fully take place, but it will happen.
Similarly, when Obama became president, any African American could say: "I have been oppressed but I, too, can become president." The presence of Obama helps shatter the anger that African Americans hold from years of being oppressed. Every gay man or woman knows that if they want to attempt to build trust and a bond between two people, they are recognized by the government.
Wow!! Congrats, America! I never thought I would see the day.
This blog post was also published on the Huffington post: