I know this has become a hot topic of conversation around my friend's list this week, so I'll just be quiet and say what it is to me personally.
My first Pridefest was 2002, my first year here in Columbus. By that point, assuming my actual coming out date was Summer 1991 (Let me clarify that. I was with Mike for the first time sometime in 87-88, but I didn't actually start the coming out process until 1991. I think. We're talking ancient history to me now. And I didn't come out to a lot of people at first, but thanks to wagging tounges in Western Champaign County, pretty much everyone but my family knew by June 1994 when I graduated High School.) So..,that means I'd been pretty much exposed and indoctrinated into the homosexual lifestyle for a good 11 years already, and was well aware that most of the gay men I had met were superficial twinks or trolls. (This is what I get for going to Wright State. Had I gone to OSU, my perceptions probably would have been a bit different. Or if I'd hung out at the Springfield bars more often, I could have lived with blue collar gay folks.)
What I found at Pride was confirmation that we can all just get along at least once a year. And while our tastes in partners differ depending on where you are, Drag Queens and Leathermen get cheered universally. Mind you, the actual party was a bummer, mainly due to a)I was broke, b) I didn't know anyone, and c) My High School English teacher who had just come out as a lesbian was running around topless. I nearly pulled an Oedipus after THAT particular specticle.
So what do I make of all the Pride rants?
Yeah, Pride sould be year round. But given the world we live in, that ain't gonna happen. I did the activism route in College and burned out like a sparkler. In your face protesting isn't something I'm good at. <-dangling participle, bad James. You know, when we reorganized Lambda in 1995 to try to get more funding, we switched out slogan to Support, Activism, Advocacy. I much prefered the former. It's easier for me to support folks than it is for me to spend my life yelling at people. And to me, being myself is more likely to change minds than confronting assholes who've a) never met an openly gay person or b) seem to think every gay man wants to stick his dick up his hillbilly arse. I once saw this toothless guy with a balding mullet walk down Main Street in Urbana with a very derogatory shirt on. Seeing as how I was in town for only 6 hours, I politely walked up and explained that no gay man in his right mind would ever see him as a sex symbol. Then I ran like hell for UDF.
And I really don't think we're lying to people just coming out with Pride and our message of gay unity. Just like any other minority, we're united by a biological factor, and divided by our humanity. IE we are united by our desire to love someone with the same genitals, but sivided by the fact we're all prone to our own humanity filled with judgements, predjudices, etc. Our unity is that we can set aside these differences of opinion long enough to do something about it, albeit usually in a mode comfortable to us. (One person might organize a petition, another might go scream on the Statehouse steps.)
When you get down to it, all of us are making a difference just by expressing ourselves. We show the world everyday we are here, we are queer, and g-ddammit will you str8 people learn to dress properly? If you want a real hip tip, buy all your outfits at the same place since most lables regardless of price design clothes that match each other!