Monday, June 13, 2005

A Wake Up Call for the Gay Community

Hiltons to be grand marshals of L.A. Pride parade
Associated Press Friday, June 10, 2005 / 06:33 PM

WEST HOLLYWOOD, Calif. -- Paris Hilton and her mother, Kathy, will be
grand marshals for the annual Gay Pride parade, one of the city's biggest celebrations.

They will greet tens of thousands of people expected Sunday at the Los
Angeles Gay, Lesbian, Bi-Sexual and Transgender Pride Parade.

Paris Hilton, the 24-year-old star of television's "The Simple Life" reality show, provoked controversy recently by appearing scantily clad in a Carl's Jr. burger commercial.

The hotel heiress is engaged to Greek shipping heir Paris Latsis, a grandson of John Latsis, the last of Greece's shipping billionaires from the postwar boom years, who died in 2003 at 93.

This news clip exemplifies perfectly to me a problem in the modern gay community. We are, and have been for a while, failing to be the activists we need to be in order to secure not just legal rights, but societal respect and acceptance.

Pride parades have become another meaningless entertainment venue, devoid of any purpose other than to get nekkid, scare the straights, and get tweaked. Instead of putting some person of value and significance, we put up a sleazy whore who has no redeeming social value, not to mention not even any celebrity of worth or entertainment value.

She is a non-person, a non-entity, a non-celebrity. To quote a recent book on teen girls, the only reason Hilton has been put up on a pedestal is so men can look up her skirt. Why gay men (or any self-respecting lesbian) would look up to her other than to reinforce the pervasive stereotype that we are also sleazy whores is beyond me.

And so once again we buy into our own internalized homophobia. We celebrate not that which makes us special or valuable, but our most base aspect, the societal spectre that follows us and seeks to destroy us as a people not worth respect or dignity or legal rights.

We fail to make a statement other than an addiction to the sexual and the shallow. We fail to be activists and retreat into the safety and denial of a stereotype that emphasizes sex and shallowness. And it must be right; we embrace those values in the choice of Paris Hilton.

We have grown accustomed to being denied rights so long as they don't shut down the bathouses. We have accepted being seen as living demons and spreaders of perversion and disease so long as they don't call us queer and fag. We have allowed ourselves to be the gay Steppin Fetchit.

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