I read awhile back an essay on way Gay Pride shouldn’t be necessary: being gay is a state of being, there’s lots of evidence it’s biological, and that means that there’s nothing to be proud – or not proud – about being gay. Homosexuality, according to this writer’s argument, was a state of being and not a culture unto itself.
I’m pretty sure that this was simply this guy’s way of being contrarian without coming off like a homophobe. It was bizarrely PC, and an interesting, compelling argument – except for the part where he completely ignored that as a direct result of centuries of marginalization, homosexuals in the United States and elsewhere in the world have actually developed their own culture complete with neighborhoods, business networks and even in some cases healthcare support. The gays really could create their own big gay island sanctuary – although the likely population drop off would prove problematic.
My end opinion of this guy is that he was a lying douchebag for other reasons, but this did cause me to pause and reconsider his opinion on this. (It’s the cost when you lose respect for someone: all their work and persuasion gets reconsidered in a different light.)
I think he was 50% wrong – because he completely ignored that gays, while a force within our culture in their own right, are still not just marginalized but have people waging war on them under the guise of “spiritual warfare” and other fancy terms for “bigoted Bible-thumping bullying.”
I do not think Pagans have the same problem. But I do think that there is call for pride.
While recent years have given me not quite a distaste for my community, but a sort of feeling of “eh…why bother?” I do understand the spirit connecting behind all of it. And I’m not sure how to say this without some idiot thinking it’s a conversion wormhole, because it’s not:
Religion is always by choice. At some point in adulthood, you consciously or subconsciously choose: what your parents taught you, what your partner wants or what speaks to you on a genuine spiritual level. In any of these scenarios, you could wind up Christian, Pagan or any of a number of variations in between. If you were always apathetic towards religion, the apathy will likely continue in the form of atheism or agnosticism. If religion was used to make your life hell, you might become the injured atheist – not apathetic, but ultimately just as irritating as most fundamentalist Christians.
Choosing to go against the cultural mainstream for motivations that you can’t just point to on a map takes courage, and that is something to be proud of, and something to celebrate. Responding to your heart takes courage, and is worthy of pride. Being brave enough to interact with others who are following such a path – even if the path isn’t always compatible with yours – also takes courage.
So yes, a celebration of the good things within our subcultures is worth taking pride in. As is taking pride in ourselves, our lives and our communities. Which, given the way any subject at all can be a minefield of branchouts among Pagans, that we can more or less agree on this one international festival is in and of itself something to be proud of.