For Pride 2010, we asked an eclectic group for their take on Gay Pride. From living to loathing, the responses cover a wide spectrum - a rainbow of opinion, perhaps?
Our lead installment is from Bradford Shellhammer, who has been on the Internet blogging for so long that he started out over a dial-up connection back in the day. Recently Bradford co-founded fabulis, a new gay networking startup that is starting to take off. Here's his take:
In 2010, what does "gay pride" mean?
I love that you guys posed the question. Because it is something I have been thinking about for some time. (No, really I have been.)
This year I left a career in the design industry to cofound a little gay website called fabulis.com. Gays sometimes like to eat their own. And they also sometimes like to be overly critical. I used to think that all people were critics, and many are, but I think more gay people are overtly critical. Especially when criticizing their peers. Where this comes from I don't know. Insecurity? Anger? And I too was prone to do this. Let me tell you a little story about Whitney Houston.
I made a crack this year about Whitney in my Facebook status. It was a cheap shot. Easy. Thoughtless. The next day a lovely guy approached me at the gym. I had seen this guy daily for a good year and he and I had smiled and said hello before. He knew who I was and told me he'd seen my status update, yet I was not his friend on Facebook. Well it turns out he works for Whitney's record label and I was caught. Red-handed with egg dripping from my face. I felt foolish. Cowardly. It shook me. I was too negative.
I have been on the receiving end of hateful remarks my entire life. For being gay. Loud. Chubby. Whatever. And when I started blogging ten years ago I would savor the love notes and accolades I'd get from strangers stumbling upon my work. But I'd also get hate mail. And nasty comments. If you put yourself out there you're gonna get clobbered. Skin must be thick.
The New York Times wrote about my break-up last year. It was sandwiched in the Home & Garden section and an article that should have been about our wonderfully eclectic lake-house read like a cheap gay break-up short story. Most people sent me love. Again, others, on sites like Data Lounge and Apartment Therapy, were vicious. We just eat our own I thought. And I vowed to become even more positive. To help people. To keep negative thoughts and quips to myself. To turn away from snarky blogs. To focus on good things.
Gay people are unique beings. I really do believe a spirit burns inside us that is so very special. We create so much beauty in this world and we always have. We make people smile. We celebrate life. And we do it while often times questioning our own value. The same wick that burns with this gay joie de vivre also burns in an opposite direction. Love and Hate. Hand in hand.
We started fabulis to bring gay people together. To help them travel. To meet without the promise of sex. And blogs went negative quickly on us. But then it subsided.
Why I bring up fabulis is because I have discovered this beautiful spirit, a gay pride, if you will through it. I have met gay men from all over the world, including a whole new generation of them.
I have met kids who came out at 12. I have see the faces of gay youth and they're out. They're proud. And they're not just flocking to SF and NYC when they graduate High School. They're going to their proms with boys. They're online with clear face pics, their real names, and they're telling the world they're gay. They are proud by every definition of the world.
And I am in awe of them.
In 2010 Gay Pride means that the generation coming of age now, the ones sitting in their rooms thinking they're different from their schoolmates at this very second, have it better than we did. And it will only get better and better. We'll feel better about ourselves and about other gay people. And we'll boost up, rather than tear down.
We're special creatures. Unicorns. Glitter balls. Stars. Whether in the sky or the gutter we're all still stars. It's our duty to shine.