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Is There Pride in Pride Parades? Hell Yes

Cord Jefferson, in an article published on The Root, takes aim at the modern day pride parade—you know, the fun ones, where scantily-clad men gyrate on floats to bumping bass, throwing condoms and beads into the crowd. His thesis? That in this “politically important” time for gay rights, homosexuals would be better served by—ahem—straightening up and flying right.

In the article, Jefferson cites Martin Luther King Jr. as an example. During his battle for civil rights, you didn’t see him in a skin-tight t-shirt and hot pants. He wanted people to take him seriously and he wanted to transcend stereotypes of African Americans as heathens. So he put on his best suit and got to work.

Says Jefferson, “With their ribald costuming and hyper-sexualized theatrics, pride parades are certainly things of joy, excitement and bawdy humor. But at the risk of sounding like a staid homophobe, I'm often left wondering where the pride part comes in.” Hey, Jefferson: You sound like a staid homophobe. Because guess what? Gays and lesbians did their time wearing the proverbial suits. They walked the walk and talked the talk. They went to great pains to blend in and suffered wickedly when they stood out. So for many of them, there’s pride in the fact that they can stand on the back of a truck in the middle of Market Street on a Saturday afternoon, wearing whatever they damn well feel like, kissing their boyfriends square on the mouth. If this demonstration adds fuel to fire of the anti-gay majority, as Jefferson surmises, so be it—a suit and tie wouldn’t change their minds either, I’m afraid, as evidenced by the scores of homosexual couples who have “cleaned up their acts” and presented themselves before countless Supreme Courts as average folks, no different from any straight person out there.

Perhaps it would make all the Cord Jefferson’s in the world feel better if all those gays just put on some clothes and acted a bit more responsibly: “They could march down the center of America's great cities in all the clothes they regularly wear, exposing themselves for what they truly are: normal human beings. It wouldn't be as fun as past parades, and it's not fair. But for now, that's life.” But then again, haven’t gay Americans had quite enough of others telling them what they can and cannot do?