2 min

Accepting us butt crack and all

We are the same - We are different

So the party is over for another year, the garbage has been cleaned up, and the media reports are in.

As usual, the drag queens were on the front pages of the mainstream newspapers and the top of the news broadcasts. And as usual, many gay and lesbian people grumbled and complained.

“Why do they have to focus on the drag queens?” “Why don’t they reflect the diversity in the community?” “Why don’t they show us for who we really are?”

Well, who are we really?

According to the familiar critique, we are just ordinary folks. We have families. We have partners and parents and children. We have jobs. We pay taxes. We are just ordinary folks, living ordinary lives, except for the fact that we’re homosexual. And that is supposed to be the message of Pride. And running pictures of drag queens, and other highly sexed queer bodies, undermines this message. It makes us all seem like freaks.

Now I don’t want to defend the way that the mainstream media represents gay, lesbian and trans folks. There is a problem when year after year after year, the picture of Pride is the drag queen. The mainstream media does zero in on the flamboyant, the exotic, the things that make Pride different from, say, the Chin picnic. And it does miss much of the diversity within the queer community.

But there’s a problem with the common refrain of criticism as well. Because gay, lesbian and trans people are not just ordinary folks.

Sure, there are lots of folks who just want to get married. Or who just want to raise their children. Or who just want to have or adopt children. Or who just want a nice house with a nice picket fence. I respect those choices – I’ve made some of those choices.

But that’s not the whole enchilada.

The queer community is also made up of the drag queens, go-go boys, gender-bending trans folk and leatherdykes.

Sure, the queer community is also about being the same. It’s about the fight for the right to equality – that is, for the right to be the same as straight folks, for the right to make exactly the same choices as straight folks do, if that suits your fancy.

But it’s also about the right to be different. It’s about the fight for sexual freedom – that is, the right to flaunt your sexuality, and the right to have sex with whom you please, in the manner you please. It’s about the right to be sexual about the right to flaunt your queerness, your dragness, your leatherness. It’s about the right to be different.

Now, the folks who want to be the same are not always so great at accommodating those folks who don’t. And the folks who are different don’t always respect the choices of those who aren’t.

And so, every year, we fight about the representation of the “real” queer community.

It’s getting tired. It’s time to get over it. It’s about sameness and difference. Indeed, the Pride parade, which doesn’t solicit or (for the most part) filter entries, really says it all. We are everything from Parents, Families And Friends Of Lesbians And Gays and the gay pilots association, to the bisexual women and leathermen and leatherwomen, all of whom marched down Yonge St.

And we are the Totally Naked Toronto Men Enjoying Nudity group who like to do stuff naked without police harassment.

Now, walking down Yonge St in the nude may not be everyone’s cup of tea. I am quite confident that I will not be doing so next year, or the year after that. But I am also not a gay pilot. It shouldn’t matter. The gay and lesbian community is all of these things. We are the same. We are different.

One day, the mainstream media might catch on that we aren’t all drag queens. But probably not before we all recognize and celebrate that some of us are.