A Word on Mental Health

Don’t Like PRIDE? Consider This…

By Michael Kimmel

I’ve lived in San Diego for 26 years and have been to a lot of PRIDE celebrations. I’ve been in the parade many times and volunteered at different festival booths. I’ve cheered from a comfortable barstool – cocktail in hand – and got completely soaked by the rain (remember that year?) 

As a therapist in the LGBTQ+ community, lately, I’ve heard a bunch of reasons why people don’t like PRIDE. Here are four popular “criticisms”. After reading them – and my responses –  I invite you to look at this year’s PRIDE a bit differently:

Critic #1: “The PRIDE parade is just a bunch of corporate sponsors and all those elected officials trying to look good. I’m tired of tacky floats with half-naked go-go boys dancing to a bad sound system.”  

Wow! Tell us how you really feel…

In writing this column, I’ve looked up many definitions of the word “Pride”. I like this one: “a sense of one’s own proper dignity or value; self-respect”. We respect ourselves and honor the right to hold our chosen values as we please and to express them as we like. It’s obvious that not everyone is going to like how everyone expresses themselves. I may find a float beautiful; you find it tacky. You may find the go-go-boys too erotic for a family parade, while your teenage son/daughter may think they’re great and want to talk with you about them. 

As far as corporate sponsors: yes, they are promoting themselves. But, personally, I want to patronize banks, restaurants and stores that welcome and acknowledge me as a LGBTQ+ person…places that are proud to be serving people like me, proud to be donating money to services that I and my friends/clients/family use.   

Critic #2: “PRIDE is only for people newly out. It’s boring for the rest of us. If you’ve seen a few PRIDEs, you’ve seen ‘em all”.  

To address such criticism, I offer this definition of Pride:  “A cause or source of pleasure or satisfaction; the best of a group or class.” Or this one. “Pride: The most successful or thriving condition; prime: the pride of youth”. Doesn’t this beautifully describe our young people: ”A cause and source of pleasure…the best of a group or class”?

Monitor your cynicism, fellow elders. At age 71, I’ve seen over fifty PRIDE celebrations, but can you see PRIDE through new eyes? Through the eyes of young, the newly out, the straight sibs of a queer brother/sister whose homophobia is slowly melting away. Our years of experience are wonderful, as long as they don’t turn to bitterness and envy.

Critic #3: “PRIDE is now mostly for the straight community who come and watch so they can be ‘cool’; at the parade, they outnumber us as observers!” 

Is it really a problem that straight people want to hang out with us because they like our celebrations? This is the adult version of gay-straight alliances – in middle and high schools – that we definitely want to encourage. We need straight allies; in fact, we all need to be each other’s allies. Let’s have more of this please, not less…

Critic #4: “PRIDE is all about guys working out for weeks so they can flaunt their gym bodies, be looked at, and get laid”.  

This may align with yet another definition of pride: “An excessively high opinion of oneself; conceit.”  But let’s be honest here: who among us has not wanted to show off a body we felt good about, enjoying the admiration of others. There’s a difference between pride and narcissism. The former is a complement to your life, a spice to heat it up, the latter is a weakness that mirrors your low self-esteem. 

I offer you a challenge, PRIDE critics: this year, can we show the world our not-so-perfect bodies and love ourselves (and our friends) just as we are? Harder still, can we love the Beautiful Ones? The truly gorgeous specimens? Can we smile at these men and women and wish them well, or do you let your envy and jealousy rule you? 

We’re queer: we know how to be beautiful/handsome and stunning. We’ve done it for straight people for years – decades – in Hollywood, now let’s celebrate it in each other.

Happy PRIDE!

Michael Kimmel is a licensed psychotherapist who specializes in helping LGBTQ+ clients achieve their goals and deal with anxiety, depression, grief, sexually addictive behavior, coming out, relationship challenges and homophobia. Contact him at 619-955-3311 or visit lifebeyondtherapy.com.