Who's Your Daddy

Celebrating every part of me

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We often fly flags from our front porch. Throughout the year, it’s the red, white, and blue. During college football season, the banner of the mighty University of Utah waves proudly. On March 25th, it’s the flag of the Hellenic Republic in honor of Greek Independence Day. And for the entire month of June, it’s the rainbow flag.

Flying that multi-colored flag is my way of commemorating the Stonewall Inn riots that ignited the revolution for LGBTQ+ rights, and it is part of my celebration of the progress we’ve made. But not everyone enjoys Pride.

A couple of years ago, AIDS/HIV activist Aundaray Guess wrote a piece for Poz Magazine in which he outlined the reasons he does not celebrate Pride. I have to agree with several of the points he made. Pride has become terribly corporate, and the lack of visibility of seniors – and often people of color – can feel very unwelcoming.

Ironically, Pride Month also creates new visibility – companies wanting to cash in on it are suddenly all about slapping rainbow stickers on their products and running advertisements with a couple of happy lesbians fawning over matching hers/hers throw pillows. You wouldn’t believe the number of pitches from public relations people I find in my email box this time of year. They all want me to include in this column whatever product they’re hawking, from cartoons to matching bracelets that vibrate.

I’ve also had younger guys tell me that Pride isn’t necessary anymore. They point to the massive progress that has been made to advance LGBTQ+ rights over the past decade or so. It’s unfathomable for them to imagine a time when rainbow flags didn’t fly in the suburbs and two women holding holds in a grocery store wasn’t scandalous. Some even argue that Pride reinforces stereotypes (especially for gay men) of single-minded partying and an existence defined entirely by sexual orientation.

But I think Pride is still very important. Is it too corporate? Yup. Is there a lack of diversity? I think so. Do too many companies try to make a quick buck off of the community? Most definitely. It may even reinforce some people’s preconceived ideas of what gay men are and what we do. However, it also serves as a reminder — a celebration of the battles we’ve fought and the victories we’ve won.

I applaud Utah Pride for striving to make the festivities accessible to everyone. The Beehive State leads the country in LGBTQ+ parents (according to the Movement Advancement Project). The fact that our celebration has events geared towards our families speaks volumes. They’ve even developed a way for people to buy one ticket and donate another to someone who otherwise couldn’t afford to attend the festivities.

In spite of all the faults people can find in Pride, I think there remains one powerful reason supporting the need for the celebration: recognition. No, I’m not talking about politicians or companies recognizing that we exist — although that’s certainly important. It’s the recognition you get when you see someone just like you who’s marching or dancing or laughing with friends. It sends a potent message: You Are Not Alone.

I recognized myself among the crowd and in the marchers at my very first Pride, including myself as a future dad. That experience helped me realize that being a gay man is a very important part of who I am. And, it’s only one aspect of what defines me as a person. I’m also a proud graduate of the University of Utah. I’m very proud — obnoxiously so — to be Greek American. Every bit of me — and every bit of you — is worth celebrating.

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