I went to my first pride parade when I was 15. It was in Munich and they called it “Christopher Street Day”.
My mom took me there back then. She told me that it is fun to see all the people so happy and dressed up in a big parade. She was right actually. I remember seeing a fun parcour-race-thing through our window, where some cross-dressers were running on high heels. Very fun and entertaining.
But I realised relatively quick that day that I enjoyed being there for more than just entertainment.
Well at 15 it wasn’t clear to me why I connected so well to the people in the parade and why it made me so extraordinarily happy to be there.
I went again the next year and then didn’t make it for the following few years. Only in recent years I have the time and the means to go again.
I have never been a big activist although I always held strong opinions. I just feel like I personally accomplish more for myself if I am simply true to myself. That is something that I only understood slowly and the full bandwidth of what that means is becoming more and more clear to me. It is not easy to be true to myself in every day life.
The Pride Parades all over the world stand exactly for that in my eyes.
They are about:
- Being true to yourself.
- Being honest to others.
- Educating society
- Equality for everybody
- Showing that people who are not sexually and gender conform are still people
In every day life it is so difficult sometimes. People are used to stereo types. It just helps them understand the world. And if you are not the stereo type, people find it weird and difficult to deal with. They are unequipped to deal with a person that is not like the rest.
So what do people like me do on a daily basis?
Keep quiet, put on the “conformity mask”, and be our true self only at home behind closed doors. We tend to push aside the fact how much this can hurt us deep inside. We tend to push aside the fact that society should just accept people for who and what they are. It is difficult.
I am bisexual.
This is something that most people at least kinda get. For being bisexual, I am not a complete weirdo. Somehow I am “normal” but I also like girls. Somehow I am conform enough for people to not start asking silly questions. Sometimes I am being seen as the person that just can’t decide whether to be gay or straight but I am fine with that. Porn, the media, and the fact that girls sometimes randomly complement each other, did their job well in society.
I am gender queer.
This is something I need to hide. Every day when I leave my flat I gotta put on a mask. Yes, people know that I like odd things for a girl. But they, of course, do not understand that my whole brain is just not female. And no, “tomboy” does really not fit my profile. If I’d be myself outside my home, people would have a problem with my behaviour. It is not conform at all. There are a few outlets and the fact that at home, with my husband, I can be myself.
I do not behave lady like and being treated like a woman is very odd to me. I understand the good intention, after all I do look very female. But it feels weird.
Behind my closed doors, when I am with my husband or with very close friends, I will have too many male treats and that confuses people.
My behaviour sometimes seems contradicting, when, for example, I play with a nice knife and half an hour later do my nails. But that is me.
Pride Parades give me the hope that one day, people like me will be accepted fully and as a complete person, not just as what the eye meets.
I want to be able to:
- go to work with a “man shirt” and a vest without being looked at weirdly.
- talk about what I want and the way I want outside my home
- talk technical details about stuff at a shop instead of the fact that I can buy this item in different colours
- sit with open legs instead of having to close or cross them just because I look like a woman
- address some of my interests without being told that this is for girls or for guys
- walk through a clothing store without feeling odd because I wanna try on “men clothing”
- the list could go on and on
It is ridiculous how deep the gender norms go and how much they influence every day life when you have to hide who you are most of the time. People make so many assumptions about you and this is one of the things I would love to see gone from society. But it probably won’t happen, not in my lifetime and likely never.
The examples above look like small issues that aren’t worth complaining about. And yes, if it were only one or two things, I wouldn’t feel the need to say anything. But knowing that this is just a fragment of all the tiny things that add up over time, it is worth to address the issue as a whole.
Society needs to become more accepting towards people who do not fit into these neat boxes:
- Vagina = Female = Behaviour xyz = Look xyz
- Penis = Male = Behaviour xyz = Look xyz
Here is the thing.
We all tend to claim that we are open minded and have no prejudice. But the reality is, we see a person and automatically put them in a box. We are doing that because it kept us alive during evolution and probably still does in many situations.
But people should not be boxed and shelved in a binary system for sex and gender.
There are countries that officially recognize more than two genders independent from what sex someone was born with.
There are lots of things going very positive, especially in recent years.
- Germany added a third option for sex on birth certificates
- Ireland voted gay marriage into the constitution
- More and more countries accept that there are other orientations, not only straight
- Countries who treat lgbt people lower or unequal to the rest of the people are being more and more frowned upon
- There are children’s books about equality
So yes, change is happening and it is a good thing.
And because change is happening, we cannot stop educating and being open. We cannot stop marching once a year. We need to stay open and friendly so society loses it’s fear and feels safe to ask questions and learn more.
A few points that I want to address because I read and hear these arguments so much. These are just the arguments that I see most frequent and that is why I address those:
- “Why do you even need a pride parade? Can’t you keep that at home?”
No we cannot keep that at home. The parades are to show people that we are normal, fun, and open. We want to give society the chance, once a year, to just have fun with us and to approach us with all the questions and critiques. These parades are more educational than you might think and they have done a great job in the past. Let’s continue.
- “Our children should not see this!”
Why not? Promoting equality to your children is a good thing. Promoting love and acceptance to your children is a good thing. Educating your child that, no matter how they turn out, they will be valued for who they are is a good thing. These events are positive and good for all age groups.
- “You chose this life style!”
Yes, I chose my life style BUT my sexuality and my gender identification are not my life style. I was born this way. I cannot chose to be straight and I cannot chose to become a woman or a man. I can chose to hide, but it is unhealthy and hurts.
If you want to prove me wrong: Go ahead, be gay for a year and while you are at it, also change your gender for that time. Should be easy.
- “You are not behaving natural!”
I would like to see your scientific proof for that. Fact is that homosexuality has been observed across species on earth. From apes to cats to swans to even guinea pigs. Why those behaved the way they did, no one knows. But you personally are not the one deciding factor as to what is natural and what is not.
- “All religions forbid this behaviour. That must have a good reason!”
First of all, it is not true that all religions forbid non-straight and/or gender queer behaviour. Second, religions are a construct that humans put in place conform to their norms and rules at the time the religion has been constructed. Especially anything about sex and gender roles has always been a big thing in religions. But the fact that they have always been a big thing doesn’t mean that religions are right about the teachings concerning these issues.
- “I don’t agree with homosexuality!”
You don’t have to. It is ok to disagree. But you not agreeing with someone else’s sexual preferences will neither change them nor do society or yourself any good. Just deal with the fact that not everybody is the same. This is a learning process and it takes time. So take all the time you need and please ask questions if you have any.
Just be nice, be kind, have fun, and enjoy your life.
Accept each other and if you disagree with someone, be mature about it.