Monday, August 17, 2009

Hetro eyes GLBT Pride Festival

Less pageantry, more substance:
Yesterday, I attended my first PRIDE festival in Allentown, PA and enjoyed every minute of it. As you can see from this title, I am a heterosexual, but embraces everyone's personal liberties. I, like much of my generation, believes that you are born straight or gay. It is not a choice. Unfortunately, much of our society does not believe this. These beliefs are fueled primarily by archaic religious edicts. I am not sure when this was interpreted in the bible, but I believe organized religion thrust this belief at us to keep us breeding. Be a good Catholic, have babies and create more Catholics. This is what grows religion. Fear of damnation and condemnation is what kept people in check.

Things have changed, haven't they?: Once again science and religion have clashed to create each faction to take sides. Fundamentalists believe that being gay is a choice. Those of us that have learned to think and interpret for ourselves have a more enlightened belief or opinion than the Fundamentalists. That is one of the reasons that I am no longer Catholic and is now an Episcopalian. That was why I was at my first Pride festival.

A little background about my church, St. Andrew's Episcopal Church, Allentown, PA: Our parish is comprised of an aging population. Several years ago to rejuvenate our church we brought in a part-time priest that happened to be gay. He is the best thing to happen to this church recently. He is charismatic and engaging. He has brought a much needed energy to a church on life support. Every year, Fr. Scott has led the diocese to participate at this festival.

This ain't no gay bar: My preconceived notions were shattered at this festival. I have gay friends and I have gone to a "gay" bar before. These bars provide a safe haven for the GLBT group to cut loose in a controlled, inviting environment. To a straight man, seeing a couple of men bumping and grinding against each other can be a little unnerving. Seeing a couple of women bumping and grinding though is another story (or another blog)! :-) My ignorance and maybe arrogance lead me to believe that I may see more of the same at this festival.

That is not what I saw. What I saw was a safe haven for people to be themselves. Too much in our society requires each of us to homogenize ourselves into a social norm. You must fit into to belong, That is what our society dictates and how we assimilate into this culture. I felt pride myself because for once I could see people openly hold their love one's hand.

Sure I saw the occasional 6'6 cross dresser with heals on. A sight that is impressive which had me wondering how that person was able to stay upright on these heels with such a large frame! But I also saw love and caring throughout. A tight knit community that took pride in being who they are and shared it with everyone that was there. I loved it.

Just by being there, I was accepted. I feel I am a better person for going there.

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