The LGBTQ Community has been marching and shouting “Pride” in downtown San Francisco all weekend. The festivities began days before I was leaving on a jet plane back to DFW Airport.
I saw the ad spots on TV while I was chilling in my motel suite in Redwood Shores for a week. Don’t ask my 87-year-old father what he thinks of the gay political agenda unless you want his honest opinion. “We’re not going to The City this weekend,” would be his simple reply.
Is he a “hater”? A “bigot”? Far from it. He’ll talk to anyone at any time about almost anything, and gently impart some practical wisdom along the way. Don’t ask him about his sex life or ancestry and he won’t ask about yours.
He’s lived his whole life in the natural diversity of the Bay Area, attending school and working with all races. He witnessed the crumbling barriers to civil rights for the Japanese after WWII, the assimilation of hard-working Hispanics migrating into the state for seasonal farm work, the tenacity of destitute European immigrants and the hard-won integration of Blacks as he navigated his own challenges of having a step-father.
Dad rolled his eyes at the impatience of the Black Power movement that lacked the finesse of nonviolent protests and legislative actions to reclaim what the Southern Democrats had stolen from African-Americans after the Civil War. Now he rolls his eyes at the “Pride” movement.
For my dad, a sheet metal worker who also made my clothes and our furniture among other things, “pride” is defined by the feeling one enjoys upon accomplishing a challenging task. It has nothing to do with skin color or sexual orientation or individual peccadilloes.
Individuals, to Dad’s way of thinking, are celebrated for their personalities and accomplishments, not their assignations. The word “pride”, like “gay”, has been redefined for exclusionary purposes, not acceptance of all.
I’m sure my dad has known many people who were other than majority ethnicity, heterosexual, gender-confident, gainfully employed, successful in marriage, etc. They didn’t flaunt it. Co-workers, friends, and family just went about their business, keeping private issues private, just as he did.
When we start focusing exclusively on what is different about us, we lose the cohesive culture that sustains communities. When everything but the norm is celebrated and those who don’t participate are disdained, we lose the very anchors that hold us in the safe harbor of society.
In contrast, a sense of collective security and solidarity would allow us to use our boldness to accomplish great things in service of others.
From an article titled, The Downside of Diversity,
Harvard political scientist Robert Putnam — famous for “Bowling Alone,” his 2000 book on declining civic engagement — has found that the greater the diversity in a community, the fewer people vote and the less they volunteer, the less they give to charity and work on community projects. In the most diverse communities, neighbors trust one another about half as much as they do in the most homogeneous settings. The study, the largest ever on civic engagement in America, found that virtually all measures of civic health are lower in more diverse settings.
Instead of evolving to merely accept the unique among us, the parades alienate many and degrade the truest sense of pride – the dignified self-respect that results from our unique contributions toward a cohesive culture that seeks to benefit the whole.
I don’t celebrate diversity. I celebrate the proud accomplishments of those who contribute to society by fostering effective unity that guarantees liberties for all, without the need for multicolored confetti.
Am I Hater? A Bigot? After a week spent with my elderly dad (am I allowed to say “elderly”?), I’m wondering if, by the time I’m his age, San Francisco will be hosting a Unity Parade for those of us who inconspicuously maintain traditional principles.
I do wonder what the flag for such a Unity Parade would look like. I’ll take pride in the fact that my father taught me how to sew if I happen upon an appropriate design. In the meantime, I’m content with an All-American Independence Day celebration every year – and I invite my fellow Americans of sundry color and orientations to join me there. To quote a recent campaign motto – “We’re Stronger Together”.