Pride

I have never really understood the concept of pride, okay? As such, I’m likely to offend someone. Instead of getting offended, though, please just explain how it is to you, because I am actually quite curious and maybe a little jealous. And you know, I’m not speaking out against Pride or pride, I’m just saying I don’t get it.

I grew up hearing that I should be “proud to be an American” – but I was never really sure why. For one, America isn’t the be-all end-all of awesomeness, and I refuse to pretend that my country can’t be improved. Whenever something good happens, I feel proud of the people involved in making that happen, but I never think “oh, I’m so proud to be American, because X just happened in the country.” If I didn’t do anything to make it happen, why should I be proud? Which brings me to my second and overarching reason for this post – I didn’t do anything to be an American. I was born in this country through no choice of my own and have never had to prove myself in order to claim the title of American (a topic for another day).

Pride is also a big queer thing. I should be proud to be asexual. I should be proud to be genderqueer. I should be proud to be transgender. Only … those aren’t accomplishments. Should I also be proud to have brown eyes?

I can say that I’m proud of the ace community much the same way I’m proud of the people who make good laws happen. I’m proud to be an out transqueer, but that is an accomplishment, in my mind. I’m proud to stand up with my peers for our rights – also an accomplishment. I take pride in my actions, in the actions of those around me, not in basic parts of identity that I can’t really control.

Maybe it’s because I also grew up hearing “don’t be proud” as a caution against overconfidence and haughtiness. So long as it’s not harmful to others, I have nothing against anyone who does take pride in their identity. I wish that I did – then I would always, always have something to be proud of. But I just don’t think that way. Anyone who does want to explain it to me?

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6 thoughts on “Pride

  1. While my feelings are probably similar (Why take pride in what is not an accomplishment?), I don’t think it is too hard to understand the idea of pride: pride is not shame. Thinking in terms of gay pride, being gay has often been considered something shameful. Being proudly gay is a refusal to be ashamed of being gay: gay pride is a reaction to this gay shaming. While I suppose it’s true that the negation of shame isn’t itself pride, there’s probably just more psychological efficacy in taking the ‘extra’ step of being proud instead of only not ashamed.

    (If so, then the idea of being proud to be an American may actually be something rather different, since I assume that in the USA there hasn’t been a comparable and dominant narrative of American-shaming to which it is a reaction. What I’m thinking here is that there’s often a notable difference between a systematically disempowered group and a privileged one when it comes to claiming pride in what defines them… I’m not implying that I think you disagree of course, since I know nothing of your thoughts on the matter.)

    • I can understand pride as a reaction to shame on a intellectual level for sure. I, hmm. I might be privileged enough never to have actually experienced that shame that led to the pride, which puts in a place where I can’t experience the pride the same way. (I guess being young?) I like your extra step idea!

      (And, I agree with you. It’s the same on one level, but it’s from a very different root, it would seem.)

  2. I think pride is offered as an antonym to shame. A person anormative in any way may default to pride in a radical response to shaming offered by persons or society. When describing a privileged attribute, it becomes ridiculous to associate pride with it; to feel proud of your privilege makes you proud, in the problematic elitist sense of the term. To feel proud about an attribute setting one at a decisive disadvantage, accordingly, is to disallow the disempowerment pressured in by society.

    It should be noted that it is not always a privilege to be American, but America does enjoy a high status in the global markets. To be proud to be American, accordingly, sounds ridiculous unless being American is being constructed as disadvantageous to the individual. (As does being proud to be Canadian, mind. I’m not just sitting up on my north throne frowning at the Americans.)

    • (copy-pasting my response to the first comment because it’s you and i know you don’t mind and you two said almost the same thing anyway)

      I can understand pride as a reaction to shame on a intellectual level for sure. I, hmm. I might be privileged enough never to have actually experienced that shame that led to the pride, which puts in a place where I can’t experience the pride the same way. (I guess being young?) I like your extra step idea!

      (And, I agree with you. It’s the same on one level, but it’s from a very different root, it would seem.)

  3. I don’t quite understand it myself. Unfortunately that’s because I’m not quite there yet.
    I’m a young bisexual Christian woman who has lived her entire life in a republican household in the Bible belt. Yet I am at a point in my life where I am completely at piece with my attraction to women. I am still a Christian because I left the methodist church. I don’t believe someone being honest about their sexuality, gender identity, or lack there of is in anyway a sin. When religious people who supposedly care about me say it is, I can point to specific scripture to back me up while they lack details.

    Intellectually, I know all this. I know people are bisexual and they are born that way the same as someone who is straight or gay.

    But somehow it feels different when it’s me I’m talking about. I came out as a lesbian even though I know I’m a bisexual who is attracted to women more than men. My family was willing to accept me as lesbian, but I’m still struggling with what it means to also be at least a little attracted to men.

    If I really am bisexual, I feel ashamed to be “choosing” the more complicated “gay option” when I could prevent so much family conflict by continuing to act like I’m only attracted to men.

    While I know I’m more attracted to masculine women, I spent so much of my life so far in the closet I was practically living in Narnia. Because of that, it’s so difficult not to be ashamed of who I am.

    And that’s what I think pride is supposed to be about.

    Who you are.

    In an ideal world, pride is being exactly who you are. Pride is openly acknowledging just how far you have come, and just how much more distance was traveled by those who came before you. Pride is the knowledge that you challenge a stereotype simply by existing. This is not an ideal world. In the state where I live you can legally be fired for that kind of pride. Any job. No explanation necessary.

    In reality, pride for me personally is more than a little strange.
    Rarely does a day go by without someone saying I don’t exist.
    From some it’s, “You can’t be a gay Christian. Repent your sin and return to the Lord!”
    From others it’s, “Your not really a Christian if your gay. It says so in your stupid Bible.”
    The thing is, I exist. As long as I keep existing, they are both wrong.
    I’ve done nothing to be proud of. I was born and raised Christian. I am genetically programed to find women more attractive than men the vast majority of the time.

    I am proud because of the fact I have existed for even a millisecond means they are both completely wrong. It is possible because I am a “gay” Christian. I don’t have all or even most of the answers, but I have my faith and I exist.

    (I should note that I probably identify more as lesbian than bisexual. I may just like more masculine facial features. (and Liam Neeson!)) Sorry for the lengthy explanation. I admit I kind of needed someone to talk to today.

    • No need for apologies! I am glad to be the person you talk to ❤

      While I'm not Christian myself any longer (some complicated mess of Buddhism with strong Christian roots, hanging around in a UU fellowship), I was raised Methodist in a Republican Bible Belt household, too. I don't know any queer people who stay Methodist, but a good number remain Christian after coming out, and yeah, it irritates me that people pretend that can't happen or whatever. Obviously it is happening! Erasing someone for their sexuality+religion is just as bad as erasing them for one or the other.

      I don’t have all or even most of the answers, but I have my faith and I exist.
      Yes. This. Excellent. Keep fighting, friend. We’re not in this alone.

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