Pride Month Musings

June is Pride Month. It wasn’t so long ago that today’s widespread recognition of–and support for– Pride would have been unthinkable. In my adult lifetime, there have been few changes in social attitudes as swift or as welcome as the legal and social acceptance of LGBTQ Americans.

That said, progress inevitably invites blowback. We are particularly seeing it in punitive legislation directed at transgender Americans. But we are also seeing continued opposition to gay equality from the same Christian Nationalists and religious fundamentalists who are determined to ignore America’s history of racism and other bigotries.

The good news is that anti-gay attitudes are far less pervasive among young Americans; in fact, sociologists and scholars of religion attribute much of the exodus by young people from fundamentalist congregations to distaste for their theological homophobia. Among older, conservative, religious Americans, however, LGBTQ citizens still encounter considerable bias–and when sexual orientation is coupled with HIV, no matter how well controlled, considerable stigma.

It’s tempting, during Pride month and especially during the local celebrations and parades, to focus on the considerable progress made by the gay community, and that progress is well worth celebrating. But it’s important to couple the celebration with recognition of remaining challenges.

For that matter, the contemporary lessons to be drawn aren’t  limited to LGBTQ issues.

Over the years, Black Americans, gay Americans, Jewish and Muslim Americans and other minorities have achieved significant legal protections: civil rights and anti-discrimination laws, and (in the case of LGBTQ folks) recognition of same-sex marriage have all gone a long way to level the legal playing field.

Hearts and minds have proved to be a harder nut to crack.

Too many Americans approach issues of inclusion and equality from a “zero-sum” perspective. The fear of “replacement” (more on that in upcoming posts) is an example. The evident calculation is that If “those people” get rights, my rights have been correspondingly diminished. The history of the gay rights struggle provides an excellent example; remember the hue and cry over “special rights”? The argument was that laws requiring equal legal treatment of gay men and lesbians were really an award of “special rights,” and the implication was that straight people didn’t have those “special rights.” 

When the Founders hammered out the U.S. Constitution, one of its most significant breaks with the past was the establishment of a legal system that would evaluate citizens based upon behavior, not social status or identity. Even when America hasn’t lived up to the principles set out in our constituent documents—and we frequently haven’t—the  official American vision has been one of a society in which group identity is legally irrelevant, a society where an individual’s conduct is the only proper concern of government.

In other words, in America, individuals are supposed to be rewarded or punished based upon what they do, not who they are. Race, religion, gender, sexual orientation and similar markers of group affiliation are supposed to be irrelevant to our legal status. No matter how meaningful those affiliations may be to us personally, the government may not award or restrict our rights based upon them.

Although they seem unable to understand or accept it, that basic element of America’s rule of law protects Christian Nationalists as well as members of minority populations.

The larger challenge we face is how to internalize that legal premise. How do we socialize our children into a worldview that sees other human beings as other human beings, and accepts or dismisses them individually, based upon their actions and behaviors–evidence of the content of their characters–not on their skin color, their sexual orientation or their theological preferences.

We have a way to go…

Happy Pride Month.


  1. Maybe it’s just me, but when I look at the Founding document, I don’t see an “equality for all construct.” I see a ruling class and everybody else, with some having more rights than others.

    This is oppression.

    We didn’t start with worker’s unions representing workers. We started with slaves in the South, farmers, peasants, and Robber Baron’s who exploited immigrant labor. It wasn’t this big happy family of democratic values where each person was equal to the other.

    It was an oppressive structure that required constant fighting for equality. The white Euro Male Capitalist ran the show. It was an oligarchy that believed in a Christian God but didn’t want God to be the show’s center. In other words, they didn’t want to impose biblical law as man’s law. We secularized society.

    The Christian Nationalists that I see want to return to a society that never existed in this country. I don’t know how many times people claim their privileged stance by saying, “We are a Christian Nation!”

    They don’t understand the concept of secularism or “the principle of separation of the state from religious institutions.”

    They insist on using the bible to oppress others or give themselves a higher ranking than others or condemn others. It’s power-tripping; it’s oppression. It’s because their ego identifies with being a Christian and being in a superior role.

    However, that role never existed.

    The only role in power was the patriarchal oligarchs who set up the society to benefit themselves. Those are the original oppressors. Everybody else has struggled for their case and is still not treated as equals by those of inherited wealth and privilege.

  2. Sheila writes her summation of today’s thread………. “The larger challenge we face is how to internalize that legal premise. How do we socialize our children into a worldview that sees other human beings as other human beings, and accepts or dismisses them individually, based upon their actions and behaviors–evidence of the content of their characters–not on their skin color, their sexual orientation or their theological preferences.”

    I think that would be great if this country was actually based on that premise!

    Unfortunately, this country was never based on equality, that is unless you were a white male wealthy landowner, then you might have a certain equality depending on how much land and wealth you had that is, but everyone else, existed rungs below these elites, all in their proper place to serve, as Todd would say, oligarchs!

    We hear a lot of hopeful musings concerning the younger generation! Well, the younger generation just put Fox News over the top as the number one cable news station, above CNN, and MSNBC. That tells me that what we think we see and what is actually going on out there are two different things. Maybe a certain group of the Gen X and Gen Z are loud and proud, but it seems a significant portion, are actually regressing rather than progressing!

    One thing that people seem to not understand, is that being gay or homosexual was an elitist practice! In the old world, it was accepted without prejudice, that is, if you had stature! Those who were on the bottom rungs of society, did not have the same benefits, they were persecuted and killed for their lifestyles in that regard.

    In Greece, and Rome, the practice was for a wealthy businessman to have a young boy to train, not only in business but as his boy toy. He would approach the parents of a good-looking young boy and negotiate a price. Eventually, this young boy would become a wealthy businessman himself and continue the practice! These young boys were known as Catamites!

    It definitely was frowned upon to go outside of this social structure, the wealthy were the ones who could choose the best looking pubescent male concubines for themselves. When, those who were of lower classes engaged in this practice, it thinned the pool of choice for the wealthy!

    So, in the present day, you still are fighting that structure of wealth and privilege concerning your lifestyle! That structure is still in place, but, those influential tend to keep themselves sequestered, you won’t see them coming out so to speak. But they fight against equality for those who are like them but not of the same social standing.

    I had a conversation with one individual who was socially elevated and had his own young concubine so to speak. And, he said if anybody came up to him talking about the different genders and such, he’d slap them in the face! I thought it was a bit hypocritical, but, it seemed that he looked at it in a much more nuanced and privileged way than many others seem to, those who talk about it all the time!

    And really, when you talk about Pride, pride doesn’t relegate itself to one small aspect of society! Pride also demands restitution for Tulsa, Knoxville, Rosewood! All Juneteenth massacres. Yep, a lot of people don’t know that because is not taught in schools, Civics refuses to address it, and you can’t change the future without addressing the past!

    Whatever a person believes, or what ever their lifestyle, their race, their religion, as long as it doesn’t infringe upon their fellow citizens, it is their business. Live your life, respect your fellow man, and more than likely they’ll respect you. Unfortunately, ignorance, and knee-jerk movements of every type exacerbate the issue of inequity. It throws the rigid minded into a tizzy because they see their social construct, the one that they have in their mind, being dismantled before their eyes, no matter what belief system may have!

  3. Todd,

    Very good! You beat me to the punch on that one! Had even mentioned you in my comment, LOL.

  4. To quote Sheila; “In my adult lifetime, there have been few changes in social attitudes as swift or as welcome as the legal and social acceptance of LGBTQ Americans.”

    Also in my lifetime; but I have also seen the not so swift or welcome racial legal and social acceptance by Americans and am now watching the loss of these rights which were never as fully accepted in reality as reported in the media. Will the same U-turn and loss happen to LGBTQ Americans and will it be as swiftly acknowledged in the media or will see only the reported positive acceptance but not the true underlying racism and bigotry which is evident in our daily lives?

    We certainly do have a way to go on both issues and many others since religion took a stronghold in our local, state and federal governments resulting in actual laws against as well as the widening economic division and possible oncoming caste system in America.


  5. Todd is correct in saying that equality for all was not the case in America in the 1770s. For example, only white male property owners could vote. But in (I believe) 1829, with the assistance of James Madison, who was in the House of Representatives at the time, Congress changed things a bit, extending the franchise to all white men. The fourteenth amendment extended the franchise to black men, but It took another 90 years to let women and members of the indigenous tribes to vote.

    So, the original text of the Constitution did not really define the society we learned about in high school civics classes. But the passage of subsequent amendments, and later the Civil Rights laws brought things around, so that today, in principle, we have that society.

    Unfortunately, the Republican party establishment is determined to backtrack, and remove the franchise from anyone likely to vote for any other party.

  6. Good stuff. I was texting back and forth a couple weeks ago with an old friend from high school. We reconnected through social media a few years ago and renewed sharing out mutual love for great music, new and old. I had just introduced him to the artist St. Vincent and her new album “Daddy’s Home”. He got back to me and raved about her talents and that he was listening to her previous albums. But then he texted: “…but I was disappointed that she’s a homosexual”.

    I asked him what the hell he meant by that and never got a response. Blocked his cell phone number and accounts on two social media plans. Too harsh? Nope.

  7. Patrick,

    WADR – what you did is pour salt into the wounds of our cultural divide, our way to deep identity politics. Beating your chest about shutting down a friend over a bit of culture wars, rather than trying to have a civil dialogue is all about YOU, not him. Enough of political correctness on both sides. Enough of showing how wonderful one is by putting a BLM sign on one’s lawn.

    Get real with the real work of healing this country…

  8. Patrick; if you want to blow your friend’s mind, let him know that David Crosby fathered both of lesbian rocker Melissa Etheridge’s children.

  9. One of the most horrible aspects of the current Republic-rats is their insistence on taking out their anger on transgender children. Just how cowardly do you have to be to target children?

  10. The good news, is that Christian Nationalists ARE a minority group.
    Yes, Todd…kudos!
    Patrick, the way you asked”what the HELL” did he mean by that could have been predicted to raise some hackles. BTW, you knew, I expect, exactly what he meant by that, but were just shocked to actually hear it from him.

  11. Peggy, Those Republic-rats didn’t start with Transgender children. They got a head start on Hispanic Children and BABIES at the Trump boarder.

  12. I never thought I would gain the right to marry in my lifetime. I was 63 when we gained that right. It’s wonderful that my nephew who is also gay can now marry his fiance’. I am so happy for him. He came out much faster than I did.

    Patrick, I do wish you had engaged your friend and found out why he was “disappointed” that a musician is gay. What, I wonder, is he afraid of? Who knows? Maybe he is closeted even from himself. Maybe he had a bad encounter with a gay person. That does happen.

    When I was a substance abuse counselor and psychiatric nurse, I had to treat people who were homophobic with the same competent care and yes, compassion that I gave to every person. It was very challenging at times.

    The sad truth, my fellow citizens, is that there will always be bigotry and differences in social class. The other sad truth is that it is much harder to look at the bigotry that lives within ourselves, to take a rigorous and honest look at how we treat those who are different from ourselves…. like drag queens, butch women, black trans women, people of the Jewish and Muslim faith, rich people, homeless people , people of color etc. What are each of us doing to make our society more welcoming toward marginalized minorities.? Oh, and I would include alcoholics and addicts as one of those marginalized minorities. And in the meantime I keep singing songs like “We are a Gentle Angry People” and “We’re Gonna Sit at the Welcome Table”, and I celebrate the election of Sen. J D Ford who represents me at the state legislature.

  13. Real freedom, as implied by the Constitution to we the people, is inextricably linked to equality. We assume that we are each equally free to live unopposed by others in the areas of life in which we have specific rights to live unregulated by the government by the Bill of Rights. Of course, the Constitution is the law of government and not society so the government has to follow that law but culture doesn’t necessarily.

    A basic tenant of liberalism as compared to authoritarianism is that societal freedom should be maximized. If you are a liberal you believe that we should each live motivated only by our internal compass and not by the expectations of others. Authoritarians like the influencer Marjorie Taylor Greene and in fact most Republicans assume that they have the power to influence culture instead of accepting it. That makes them more of a social media phenomenon rather than holding positions of authority in government but they can get paid for their social media influencer role by getting elected to office.

    It’s a confusing complex mess that endangers Constitutional government because many people don’t take the time to untangle the mess.

  14. dateline,1976, hollywood blvd,9 pm saturday nite.. i drove a tow truck in hollywood when i lived in the silverlake area. the gay parade was nightly by then,pop stars like Elton John had the people on the streets, finally. Pinks was the local hangout and see who would drive up and make a entrance. this was hollywood,(and other avenues) and it finally allowed the otherside to emerge, as humans,as the working class and as the public. i was never offended by the offers, passed on them, and found most were deeply decent folk, and the sleeve didnt mar the person. my girlfriend at the time worked for pacific bell and her colleages were mostly gay..the get togethers with them were just as fun as any straight nite out. relax, and allow others to become who they are. there have been many a bad word about any group, any image,any race. i like the looking in, the faces and seeing the improvements in attitudes for others. after this covid stuff, now were seeing a new blame game emerging. like the sexual side of life,aids was the blame game there too. i probably am one who would like to see the guilty bought forth and given just due. but when one actully hammers the whole in the blame game, I can look back a see, whos to blame,for that game…

  15. Lester, thank you for saying exactly what I was thinking after reading Patrick’s comment. A better day will never come if we don’t talk to each other.
    Republican women are very hard for me to empathize with, but I listen if they make sense at least part of the time. The “Founding Fathers” had no intention of allowing their mothers, wives, sisters, daughters, and female friends to have a say, and if we have long decline from democracy (god forbid) women will find themselves disenfranchised again.

  16. Patrick:
    id have just said, what the heck,its her choice. a cavalier attitude to that lifestyle
    posses words of, who cares,and its of ones life,not yours.. id prefer to support
    his view,and show my openess to theirs..

  17. I took an economics degree in 1951 before going to law school and became a John Maynard Keynes aficionado forever and to this day (along with Piketty, Stiglitz et al.). Only this year did I discover that he was gay but later in life married a Russian ballerina. So what am I supposed to write about such a eureka event with the thought police on patrol? I’ll write it anyway, and in the words of Gable in Gone With The Wind: “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a d…”

  18. Today is the anniversary of Robert Kennedy’s death. He urged us to reach across our divisions of all sorts to understand each other AND work to overcome social injustices of all sorts. Trying to establish common ground with those who enrage us is very difficult, emotionally trying, and often unsuccessful, but it’s in our own self-interest. A democracy or even the world cannot survive the kind of escalating hatred and disinformation which is on the rise. Hitler’s example should have taught us that.

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