Sandip Roy is an editor with New America Media and host of its radio show New America Now on KALW 91.7 FM.
My friend who went to Gay pride in San Francisco said it seemed to be all about marriage. Marriage equality. The exclusive club of legally married same sex couples. Gay couples pushing babies.
The maturation of the gay movement has come with a mellowing. This was the fortieth anniversary of Stonewall but the drag queens had given way to lesbian moms. They were the new shock troops of the LGBT movement and instead of stilettos and platform heels they work sensible flats and sneakers.
The first time I marched in Gay Pride in San Francisco I remember how thrilling it felt. The first time our local South Asian LGBT group marched in the India Day Parade in Fremont it was asked to please not wear anything too risqué – leather and chains and bared nipples. We dressed decorously in traditional Indian clothes our mothers would have been proud of.
These days the India Day parade would probably not worry. The gays are definitely toning down, the movement settling into becoming Family Guy in its middle age. Stonewall was 40 years ago and fabulous now means the kids took their afternoon nap.
The historian Martin Duberman recently said in an interview with the San Francisco Bay Guardian that whereas the LGBT movement once challenged many established institution and values, today it wants to be regarded as “just folks”, patriotic Americans who want the same things everybody else wants.
It’s not a bad thing. Over in India, the government is finally considering doing away with its antiquated sodomy law reports The Hindu and there were Pride Parades all over the country. I am sure a parade that didn’t try to shock and titillate would go a long way to reassure a jittery public that gays weren’t out to corrupt society. But an activist mourned that even in Delhi’s stifling heat, the gay marchers kept their shirts on.
So the parade which was once about flaunting a fabulous otherness now is getting assimilationist, trying to reassure the rest of society we are just like you. Even the go-go boys gyrating on one of the music trucks in San Francisco seemed to be wearing longer shorts sighed my friend.
I can’t vouch for that. I decided since the gays were all about marriage these days, I’d just skip the Parade and go to a real hetero wedding in the East Bay instead. It was strange – you could hardly tell the difference, the hotel ballroom, the crooning lounge singer singing “I just called to say”, the friends giving toasts, the pasta-salmon-chicken options. Gosh I thought, this is what we have bought into.
And then the dancing began. A bit of Abba, Billie Jean in honor of Michael Jackson. And then to my horror, the Village People. A roomful of sari clad Indian women and their husbands in suits and little toddlers broke into Y-M-C-A.
I decided it was my cue to leave.
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