28 July 2007

Proud, Not Proud

In honour of Montréal's gay pride weekend, I thought I would participate by making a little list of what makes me proud and not proud of myself and my community.

I am proud that Montréal has an explicitly inclusive pride, without messages denouncing those who dare to differ from mainstream society — drag queens and the leather community. There is no big endorsement of the 'We're the normal gays' message here.

I am not proud of the youth- and beauty-centricity that still very much dominates the community.

I am proud of the creativity that typifies the community and all of the things that we do.

I am not proud of the poverty and the disparity that often makes this creativity a necessity from day to day.

I am proud of the dedication of the hundreds of people who give of themselves to volunteer in our many community organizations.

I am not proud that much of the rest of our community seems to have lost its interest in and appetite for health messages, including HIV prevention messages.

I am proud that our community rallied to maintain the community aspects of our pride: community day, where the street is filled with the many health and social organizations who work all year to better the lives of all our community members, and the parade, where we show the rest of our society the diversity in our part of the community.

I am not proud that the community aspects were not central to the interests of the previous organizers, who made the very rushed rallying necessary by announcing their own withdrawal from the task mere months ago.

I am proud that I am able to live my life openly as a gay man in this city, with little fear of victimization by the majority.

I am not proud of the ever-present stigma related to being HIV-positive, even in the gay community (although this is less prevalent in our community).

On a personal level, I am proud that I spent several hours volunteering for my own organization setting up and taking down the kiosk that we had up today.

I am not proud that this was the limit of my participation. I am not feeling particularly like a part of my community these days, due to a few of those people mentioned in the previous post.

If I were to tip the balance here, I would add that I am not proud that I have come to the point of seeing myself through those judging eyes. There are only so many times that one can be slapped in the face before deciding not to present the face for slapping.

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