Pride, as a word and a concept, matters.
By James Maxwell on Monday, 30 May 2022
The words we use matter. They have power. And Pride as a word and a concept, matters.
As a writer, a creative, and an Executive Creative Director, I believe that words have a profound influence on our actions, our behaviour, and our mental state. The use of the word Pride is integral to the queer community – because it is the opposite of shame.
Many still say “Why do they have to be so in your face?”
Nothing makes me more furious than this phrase. I remember hearing it growing up and now I hear it about the Non Binary community and about trans people. What you really mean is, why aren’t you hiding in shame? Why aren’t you just doing what I want and feeling humiliated? First, your discomfort is not my problem. Second we’re proud of who we are. And it has nothing to do with you.
DID YOU KNOW? PRIDE was originally an acronym for Personal Rights in Defence and Education.
Created in 1966 in LA, by Steve Ginsburg. At the time many gay groups followed a more apologetic and deferential approach, often trying as best as possible to show how “normal” they were and mundane. PRIDE, however, was more radical… for the time at least. Pride as a concept went on to be a juggernaut for gay rights, spawning more groups, parades and the like. It is very much the battle cry for the Queer community. Interesting to note its origins were pre-Stonewall. The combination of this idea and the riots in 1969 catapulted the idea of being unapologetic and no longer subservient to an abusive system right into the mainstream.
In short, to be proud is to be unapologetic. And unashamed.
For us, pride, or to be proud, is the antithesis of shame. Which is the most powerful weapon in the arsenal against gay rights. Laws can be challenged and broken, systems dismantled. But if you can get inside the head of a young person and shame them, you can break them That’s why we call it a closet: A dark place of the mind, where we hide from the shouts, screams, hurt and witch hunts we perceive everywhere. Shame is a powerful tool of mental torture. And that’s exactly why the idea of PRIDE has gone beyond its initial acronym. By attempting to defy the bigotry and hatred used against the LGBTQIA+ community and paint it as something worth celebrating.
Shame is repressive. Pride is liberating.
To stand up and say this is who I am and I don’t care what you think….is incredibly difficult We were told we have no inherent value. No contribution would make us worth praise or acceptance.
Which is why Pride is absolutely still necessary for the queer community today.
Sadly I think it always will be as it feels like as soon as we make grounds in one place, we’re pushed back somewhere else. The current government’s attack on Trans rights in the UK, and the repression in the US, is just a sharp barbed wedge to push back any gains we have made.
Pride allows us to be more self-assertive.
That's what is really going to make the change in people's lives: when they assert their rights to marry, they assert their right to be known, they assert their right to keep a job, to walk down the street. I believe we have to be proud of how we have overcome our past, what we went through as kids and adults, managing to come out the other side. Many didn’t. Many won’t.
We go out to the streets to show just how proud we are. How unashamed. We’re not hiding that in some dark space. And anyone who is worth their salt gets that. It’s also empowering to non-queer people too.
I’m proud of who I am, what my community has achieved and proud of the energy we bring to society as a whole.
And frankly that should be the last word on the matter.