One Equal World

Does Pride Perpetuate Gay Stereotypes?

Posted on: July 26, 2013

pride parade Chicago

Does pride affect gay stereotypes?
Cafebeanz Company /

Pride weekend is always a fun, raucous event.  You might find men in drag, feather boas, glitter, shiny lip gloss or any other manner of garb. The excitement in the air is palpable.  But despite the victory over DOMA giving everyone a reason to smile, there is still a long way to go in the fight for gay rights.

One marcher in the Seattle pride parade earlier this month wondered whether the parade actually ended up perpetuating gay stereotypes.  The Seattle native had a different lens through which to view the event.  He remembered how television, books and movies tended to portray gay men as effeminate, flamboyant characters.

“Often I’m stereotyped as the cute little twinky boy,” said James-Robert Lim, 30, at Pridefest. Lim went on to explain that his fashion choices, hairstyle and small stature often lead people to assume that he would be drawn to more classically masculine partners. “In reality,” he said, “I’m quite the opposite. I like being a guy.”

Lim wondered what it might look like if your only exposure with the gay community was to attend Pride.  He thought it might give the idea that all gays are always pouring glitter over their heads or toting around stuffed unicorns.  Lim’s concern was that it might make it difficult for people to take them seriously.

Sure, says Marschel Paul, former Managing Director and current Interim Executive Director of the Seattle Pride Foundation, which supports the LGBTQ community.

Pride parades embody “expressiveness and color and culture,” explains Paul. They celebrate “dancing and music, nudity, drag queens, all manner of sexiness, lesbians on motorcycles, mysterious costumed nuns and so much more.”

Pride has definitely evolved over the years from what used to be called activist “marches” into a more full-fledged party designed to reflect the growing diversity of the LGBT community.

“What some people may think of as distasteful flamboyance or radical expressiveness in the parades is truly joyous and welcome to those who understand what it means to survive any form of oppression and to live openly and honestly,” said Paul.

Then again, nobody questions whether all the fireworks on the Fourth of July take away from the seriousness of Independence Day.  They embrace the atmosphere and cheer them on.  Here too, that is what most people choose to do.  And, come on, it’s just once a year.  There are 364 others days in the year to be serious.


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