Are you ever too old to celebrate Pride?
In New Jersey, there are multiple locations celebrating Pride. Some of the celebrations are big while others are small. My husband and I were sitting in a diner yesterday enjoying a late brunch. We had passed one of the many streets that were celebrating LGBTQ Pride and I could not help but notice that many of the celebration attendees were in their twenties and thirties. While we were waiting for our food, I could not help but wonder, “Are we too old to celebrate Pride?”
Pride Celebration in the Nineties
Back in the Nineties, Pride represented a major celebration event that I thoroughly enjoyed. But I was much younger then. I would think nothing of hopping a train or driving up to New York, go to a club and dancing the night away; waking up the next day and going to the Pride parade. Back then, I had the energy to dance all night long and then go out and do so more drinking in celebration of who I am and who I love. I was also in better shape back then. I thought nothing of taking off my tank top and running with the rest of the boys in my age range or younger. Back then, it was a magical time. We celebrated something that society tried to deny us for decades; and that was the celebration of our humanity. For one day the entire LGBTQ community was able to be themselves with no fear of retribution.
As we sat in the diner waiting for our food, I thought, “Are we too old to celebrate Pride?” And then it occurred to me that (2)“Bears” celebrate Pride just as much as the (1)“Twinks.” It just appears that the celebration was for men in their twenties, thirties, and forties. And while I would never think of running the streets without my shirt now, I agree with celebrations of my own with small “Pride” Parties at home surrounded by close friends and family.
My days of celebrating Pride in New York City are behind me. They are memories that are cherished the same way that someone would cherish photo albums filled with pictures of family and friends. I gladly leave the outdoor celebrations to the young while smiling wistfully as my food arrived at my table.
Pride means many things to many people; and while countless people use this as another excuse to party, there are others who thoughtfully reflect on what this celebration means. We have chosen to live and walk in the light. Our flag has come to be a symbol of love and acceptance. We no longer have to hide in the shadows of a society that did not seem to want us. We can now celebrate out in the open. Our community with all its idiosyncrasies and misconceptions can live freely…and this is something that should be celebrated by the young and the old.
We celebrate by not only marching in “Pride” parades; we celebrate by holding hands in the street. We celebrate by giving our partners the quick kiss “hello” or “goodbye” as we meet them or tell them goodbye. We celebrate pride by holding our heads high because of who we are instead of hiding in the closet while we are at work. The list goes on and on.
Are you too old for Pride?
We are never too old to celebrate who we are. This falls within the same realm as celebrating every demographic because of who and what they are. We celebrate because maybe society has forgotten them. We celebrate because we are husbands, wives, parents, doctors, lawyers, writers, actors, actresses, and activists. We are more than people looking for a good party. We care about our communities and will take the necessary steps to keep said communities safe.
You are never too old to celebrate pride. The way you celebrate may change but the reason why you rejoice never goes away.
~ J.L. Whitehead
(1) Twink is gay slang for a young man in his late teens to early twenties whose traits may include: general physical attractiveness; a slim to average build; and a youthful appearance that may belie an older chronological age.
(2) Bear: In gay culture, a bear is a larger and often hairier man who projects an image of rugged masculinity. However, in San Francisco during the 1970s, any hairy man of whatever shape was referred to as a ‘bear’ until the term was appropriated by larger men, and other words had to be used to describe hairy other-shaped men such as otter (slim), cub (young bear on the way), or wolf (hairy, medium build). The word ‘manatee’ describes a big, hairless man, i.e., a bear without hair.