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Gay Pride and Gay Porn

No, they're not the same thing

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There's a huge difference between gay pride and gay stupidity. Unfortunately, we've seen more of the latter around here lately thanks to a small number of gays who seem to think their sexuality excuses them from practicing the good manners and common sense I know their mothers taught them. In the process, they've put a decent community that is genuinely trying — not always succeeding, but trying — to be accepting of all people into a really awkward position.

I say this because I know that gay people all over the country, and friends and family of gay people, some of whom might even be considering moving here, have probably been reading online about the dust-up between the Gay Pride Festival and the City of Charlotte. I'd like to add an explanation I hope they'll stumble upon as well.

If an email the gay pride folks sent me recently is any indication, they would clearly like you and I to believe public officials are targeting them because they are gay. Not so.

First, I'd like to note that three previous gay pride festivals, gay bingo and "Guess Who is Coming to Dinner" style events have been going off without a hitch here for years, because, as I said, this is by and large a tolerant community. What was different about the pride festival last year were the pictures in a booth set up by a gay nudist camp. Since most of the media have walked on eggshells around this issue, and since the pictures openly displayed in that booth were too obscene to print in a general circulation newspaper, most of the community, gay and straight, hasn't seen them.

That is, unless they and their kids were unlucky enough to have been strolling through Freedom Park during the last festival and weren't too distracted by the transvestites grinding on each other to notice the pix. If they did, dad and the kids no doubt got a nasty shock they didn't deserve.

The naked men cavorting about in the pictures didn't bother me as much as the shots of men in sexual positions feigning, or perhaps actually participating in — it's hard to tell — anal sex and fellatio. So far, the organizers of the festival haven't definitively said whether this trash will be part of the upcoming May festival. Perhaps they're still deciding.

If that's the case, I would invite them to check out the NAACP website and take note of what is posted. Nope, no pictures of nude African-Americans in sexually compromising positions there. Immigrants' rights websites? Nope, no nude Hispanics doing the nasty. Muslim advocacy websites? Same thing. Individuals with Disabilities websites? Hopefully you're getting the picture. You stand alone in your stupidity.

Common sense would tell us that displaying pornography around unsuspecting people in a public park — any pornography, be it gay or straight — won't do much to advance a minority group's struggle for acceptance. Worse yet, this crap confirms the worst stereotypes of gay people, stereotypes that don't even come close to representing the vast majority of gays, and certainly not any of the kind, decent gay and bisexual people I know, some of whom are middle-aged folks who wouldn't want their kids exposed to this junk either.

I understand that gay people get angry and that that anger builds. A friend of mine who is very obviously gay can't seem to shop at SouthPark mall without getting snide remarks, harassment from security and once, he says, an attempt by a couple of teenagers to beat him up. Last year's pride festival definitely won't help matters.

What burns me the most about this, though, is that a few selfish individuals who clearly get a charge out of riling people with in-your-face sexuality — and that's what this is really all about — have put the city's leadership in the awkward position of choosing between accepting gay people and accepting gay porn at a time when the community is trying to attract young people who are attracted to tolerant cities.

All of which, of course, works against the interests of the gay community.

Pride Festival leadership can whine all they want about Mayor McCrory's suggestion that the festival belongs indoors, but if they've lived here a couple of years, they know this community well enough to know that our elected officials would react the same way to a heterosexual gathering with booths featuring pornography. Why? Because the Christian loonies who get a charge out of being in-your-face about other people's sex lives would pack political meetings over that, too.

So here's some advice. Please leave the explicit pictures and the gyrating transvestites at home so the loonies won't have a leg to stand on and this year's festival should go just fine.

Contact Tara Servatius at tara.servatius@cln.com.

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