Telling the story from our point of view

Blog Archive

September 06, 2006

The problems with 'Pride'

"Black Pride" in Atlanta is supposed to be the place to be during Labor Day weekend. Estimates put the attendees near 35 to 40,000 but that's an extremely hard figure to quantify. The organizer's website claimed this year's attendance was "the biggest" celebration to date, but in what ways?
While talk of being more political and activist oriented looks good on paper, I think the great majority of the black gays and lesbians that trekked into Atlanta were here for sex hookups and partying.

One component of Atlanta's BP is the march. Yes, the march. Black gays actually get out on the street and proclaim their identity and pride to just about anyone who'll stop, look or listen. Last year the march appeared to be picking up steam, but this year it was a dismal failure. I don't mean that as critical, just as fact.

If you're wondering how I know, I was there. A friend of mine called me to see if I wanted to go. I thought about if I should go out and evangelize some, but I eventually decided to just go and observe, talk to people and be friendly. That's what I did.

I noticed something that perhaps you'd only notice if you were black. Black folk really are the same. The parade should have started at 10:30, but due to chronic CP time, it began about 45 minutes late. I think part of that problem was that they kept waiting on others to come, but they didn't materialize. Ultimately only about 30 people gathered for the march. Even fewer stood to watch. I noticed that black folk talk about all kinds of stuff. I heard snippets of conversations ranging from "Hey I'm celebrating six years of sobriety today!" to "where were you last night?"

The marchers seemed spirited enough, but I could tell they were bothered by the extremely low turnout and the lower number of spectators. Some of the spectators weren't even there to see them, they were at the old Ebenezer sightseeing.

Identity Confusion
As they left, the marchers began chanting: "We're black, we're out, we're proud!" I looked around to gauge the reaction of the people and they all had puzzled looks. I asked one lady --she was there with her friend from Trenton, NJ-- if she knew what this was all about.
"No!", she replied, surprised. "What is it?"
When I told her the people were homosexuals marching, she said oh. I asked her what she thought about it. She told me that she couldn't pass judgment on anybody, but she had no idea that's what it was. "I thought it was a drug rally or something."
The woman told me that she also couldn't understand what the marchers were saying. The other woman replied dryly, "My Bible tells me that they are wrong to do that."

I thought it was strange the marchers made no reference to their sexual preference. They said "black, out and proud" not "black, gay and proud". I wondered if that was intentional. Two people carried the gay flag. One woman even posed with it for the Southern Voice. However, none of the people watching knew what the flag meant either. I guess Black people don't connect with the white, gay imagery. Which brings up another strange point about the march. Why parade with white, gay rainbow flag, but chant about being black...and proud?

My friend and I did't march or clap or anything. We just watched. Later, we drove over to the Gold Dome where the march culminated to see if the crowd would get larger and what was being said. Well, the crowd grew by about 10 people.

Beyond the Gold Dome
Speeches were already in full effect when we got to the Gold Dome. What I heard was the usual we-can't-let-them-take-our-rights type of stuff. Somebody sang a song. I don't know what it was (sounded gospel), but the guy had a great voice. Then, I guess there was a mix-up at the Dome. Capitol Police told the marchers they could not stand on the Capitol steps and there were some angry words exchanged. I'm not sure if the Atlanta PD policewoman involved was gay, but she looked it. She got into an exchange with the other woman about where they could and could not stand. When the APD woman came back to where the other four cops were standing close to me, she was clearly perturbed.
"Why couldn't they stand on the steps?", I asked.
"Susta woman trying to get funky with me!", she said. "They don't have a permit. And we have to do our jobs. She said she's paying my salary, but I told her she got a whole lot of more paying to do before I don't do my job. They not right, man. They need to do what's right!"
The other cops all agreed. Apparently, whoever organized the march, didn't get the Capitol permit. What I thought was real funny, if not strange, was the reaction the gays gave. Note: all of the police out there (about ten) were black. All of them. But some of the gays claimed "discrimination" when they were told to move. And then they broke out into an impromptu version of the old Negro civil rights song "Aint gone let nobody turn me around." I thought that was bizarre.

::I have more pictures, but blogger is giving me a hard time posting them. I'll put them up in another post.

No comments: