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Do Pride Parades Hurt the Gay Rights Movement?

June is Gay Pride Month, a time when the LGBT community and its supporters celebrate its heritage, culture, and liberation. Cities around the world typically hold festive "pride parades" where members of the community show that they are proud of their sexuality and gender identity. But some supporters believe that the spirit of such parades furthers the stereotypes that homosexuals are flamboyant, sex-crazed deviants.


Writing in the Root, Cord Jefferson makes the point that the LGBT community should take cues from Martin Luther King, Jr. during this crucial moment in the struggle for equal rights. He points out that MLK dressed in gentleman's clothes, practiced his oration, and advocated nonviolence, because to do otherwise would have played into his detractors' expectations.

Jefferson thinks that the pride parades either entertain those who already support equal rights or feed into dangerous stereotypes. He writes:

Knowing that there are people — voters who have the power to deny them rights — who will judge them based on the flamboyance of their appearance in one parade, why hasn't the gay community decided to tone down the pride festivals?

It's impossible to compare civil rights struggles as perfect parallels. For more on this, read more.

While the civil rights marches of the last century were somber occasions, pride parades are typically celebrations during which gay people proudly assert: "We're here, we're queer, get used to it." In addition, the parades are characterized by their diversity — one float may feature proudly, flamingly flamboyant dancers in skimpy outfits, and the next one could be the PFLAG float with gay parents and their children all dressed in khakis. (PFLAG is Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays.)

Ass-less chaps and thongs might not be appropriate at a rally protesting Prop. 8, for example, but does the LGBT community have to get rid of them altogether?

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