I’ve never really cared much about gay activism. Maybe it’s because monogamy makes me so claustrophobic that I’ve been subconsciously rooting against marriage equality so that I never really have to face that fear. I mostly blame whoever coined the phrase “tying the knot” for painting the image of a noose around my neck.
I can’t help but cringe when I see others put so much energy into fighting to be a part of a system covered in cobwebs and reeking of mothballs. Part of me actually finds comfort in not being able to say I do, because the sound of those words makes me a little bit nauseous. I have trouble verbally committing to a second date, let alone a life partner.
But I also can’t stomach fighting for human rights that seem so basic to me. Like being able to drink on the street, for example. We’re talking about basic stuff. Each year when rainbow flags line the streets and fake eyelashes fall like leaves from the queens, I have trouble digging up the pride spirit.
I’m always proud of who I am and don’t see why we need a parade to remember that.
But as I watch the older couples walk down the streets with their gray hair, matching pink boas and hands held tightly, I can’t help but notice the look in their eyes that remind me why pride is much more than that.
They’ve seen hate that mine never have and progress that our generation takes for granted. They carry the pain of countless friends and lovers lost to a lethal disease that, to us, is no longer considered a death sentence. They radiate joy from seeing youth today feel comfortable being who they are at an age that, in their time, was unthinkable. It’s seeing gay brothers and sisters consistently on the big screen and in the media being true to who they are.
Heck, it’s having our president even use the phrase “gay brothers and sisters” in an address to the country.
Yet, I was a little disheartened to learn that pride celebrations in New Orleans are not very big any more, although I am comparing them to those in New York, where getting from one end of the city to the other is as impossible as it is here during Mardi Gras. Many talk about how it’s lost its momentum over the years, especially with the popularity of Southern Decadence, the gay Mardi Gras.
But that’s just a party. So, it got me thinking – when the Stonewall generation is long gone, will pride be, too?
A little more than 40 years after it all began, with catalytic events like Stonewall in New York and the Upstairs Lounge in New Orleans, a lot has changed. Forty more years from now, when the millennials are getting ready for retirement, pride isn’t going to look the same. And maybe that’s the point.
This past year, our generation already has begun transforming what pride looks like, through a new alternative event called Endless Gaycation, a queer arts, music and education festival. The second annual event will be held this October and will continue to educate and inspire others about free love. Maybe down the road we won’t need any of these events. And I think the founders of it all will look down at us and think, mission accomplished.
So, regardless of what the parade looks like years from now, or if there even is a parade, for that matter, we’ll look back and remember why we have it so easy. There’s a good chance I may never get married or use the rights that my brothers and sisters have so valiantly fought for. But because of them, I’m proud to say that I have the option.
Joey Albanese writes about the twenty-something generation in New Orleans for NolaVie. Send him any questions or tell him the answers at firstname.lastname@example.org.