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OPINION - The Pride Parade

by Chris Conley

NEWS BLOG (WSAU)  My feelings are all over the board about Wausau’s gay pride parade.

Do the organizers have a right to have a parade? Yes, unquestionably, under their First Amendment Free Speech rights.

Will the parade be less than ‘family friendly’? Probably, although its impossible to tell since Wausau hasn’t had a gay pride parade until now. Some of the pictures below are from the Pride parades in San Francisco, New York, and Milwaukee.

If there’s nudity or lewd behavior, Wausau police should make arrests and shut the event down. Recent publicity makes it more likely that out-of-towners, and a more ‘over the top’ element will travel here and take part. Even if this isn’t a local event, that’s still no reason that it can’t take place.

Yet I can’t support the comments of Wausau alderman David Nutting, who sounds hateful and combative. He wants spectators to turn their backs on the marchers as they go by. He describes the parade as a celebration of deviant behavior. Ironically, since his comments have been picked up by state and national wire services the parade will be bigger and will attract more marchers than it otherwise would have.

A gay pride parade is a caricature of the gay community, similar to St. Patrick's Day being a caricature of the Irish. I’m an Irish-American. You won’t find me face-down drunk in the streets as a way of celebrating my ancestry. Drinking to excess isn't how I should "pride" in my ethnicity. The drunken Irishman, the fat lazy Mexican, the goose-stepping authoritative German… these are all distortions, although they’re sometimes reinforced by people within those groups. The gay man wearing only a rainbow thong falls into the same category. The marchers are in a gay pride parade are a small sub-set; they aren’t representative of the larger gay community. Some, but not all, are uncomfortable marching in this type of parade.

Most of the gay people I know don’t display their sexuality outwardly. I suppose it’s possible there are other gay people in my life who haven’t revealed their sexuality to me. Pride in who we are is expressed in many different ways. For many, the parade doesn’t fit.

Chris Conley