So today was culmination of Toronto's week-long Pride celebrations.
And I was not in attendance. Partly by choice, partly by scheduling conflicts, partly because I had no irresistible offers.
Of the few people who asked what my Pride plans for this year were, most were surprised to hear that I didn't have any. After all, Pride is supposed to be the big gay celebration, where Mo's from all across the region (and even from around the world) descend on the city, clad in booty shorts and skin-tight tank tops. And how does it all make me "feel?" they ask.
Well...sort of awkward. And anxious.
When I attended my first Pride a few years ago, I did so under the wing of the guy I'd been dating that summer. We went out with his friend, he made all the arrangements, and all I had to do was show up and try not to stick out in the crowd.
That sounds sort of ridiculous, since the crowds are largely made up of nearly-naked members of both sexes, clad with leather or spun out of their minds on a handful of different drugs. Since I don't fit into any of those categories, my simple jeans and T-shirt uniform proclaimed me an outsider. It was sort of like Alice falling through the looking glass, waking up in a world very far from my own.
I actually had a blast that weekend. It was fun and pretty meaningful for me, at that point in my life, to have been part of it. But this year, the thought of Pride just reminds me of how I still really have yet to find out how I fit into the gay community.
There's a whole other post I'm writing on that subject, since I find it pretty daunting to tack down the exact definition of 'modern gay', but that's for another time.
When I think about the thousands of horny homos, sweating under the pulsing beats of a club's sound system, complete with live sex show being simulcast on 50 foot screens...I dunno. I'm very torn.
On the one hand, it's like a huge high school party. There's all these people there having a good time, comfortable in their surroundings, confident in their swagger. All the 'cool' kids gathered together, getting drunk and trying to get laid. The sense of belonging.
Of course, in high school, I was definitely not one of the cool kids, and that's transitioned into my current status in the gay world - uncool. You know there's going to be this huge party, and everybody is going to be there, and it's all amazing and shit...but you're not invited.
I want to say that I'm mature enough to not give a shit about it. After all, at it's seediest, Pride is a cesspool of bad decisions, bitterness and thinly guised disgust for anyone who doesn't fit the perfect homo mould. When I think of it that way, I really don't have time or patience for such bullshit. It's ridiculousness on such a huge scale that they even have a fucking parade to cap the weeks festivities off.
No longer is Pride about gay rights, inclusiveness, acceptance. It's about a bunch of hot guys trying to fuck each other and chastising anyone who doesn't fit into their particular clique. And while I don't mind a bit of good-natured debauchery, when you feel like the odd one out it takes all the fun out of it.
And this is where I feel torn. Because as much as I understand that Pride is a rehashing of high school drama, and really isn't the lifestyle that I want to pursue, I still wind up feeling left out of the fun.
I just want to feel like I belong, like I'm not still an outsider, even amongst my own people. All these years later, and I'm still trying to figure out just how I fit into the gay community, where I can befriend some like-minded guys and finally have some fun times in a part of the gay world that I would be comfortable in.
I usually tell myself, "There's always next year." But I've been saying that for a long, long time, and still things have yet to change. I always thought that once I got to university, moved to the city and came out that things would sort themselves out, yet here I am still feeling like a total outsider on the one weekend a year when I should be feeling part of the 'big picture'.
And, alas, the pendulum of my mind swings back and forth between 'this is bullshit' and 'wow I wanna be a semi-cool kid'. Tick, tock. Tick, tock.
Now that Pride week is over, I'll roll out my excuses for not taking part in any of the events. And I'll probably not feel so wracked with anxious tension about not 'fitting in'. And in another week, it'll all be a distant memory.
But then, there's always next year.