By Ann C.*
Three weeks before I left for Jordan, the city of Seattle, Washington held its annual gay pride weekend. Seattle Out and Proud, a local gay activist group, in cooperation with other local businesses and organizations sponsors the yearly parade that marches down Fourth Avenue, a main thoroughfare through downtown. Throughout the weekend, rallies and other events, including movies, discussions and charity drag shows are held to give visibility and show support to the local GBLT community. In the evenings bars and clubs spill into the street as people come out in masses to celebrate. However, over the past decade, as gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender individuals have gained more public acceptance, some people have begun to question the necessity of a yearly gay pride celebration. As a lesbian from a liberal American city, I enjoy the yearly festivities that are associated with Pride, but felt they did little to further the agenda of gay rights. Since coming to Jordan, my ability to live an openly gay life has vanished and I have begun to reevaluate the purpose of holding gay pride events.
Living in the south of Jordan I can no longer walk down the street holding my girlfriend’s hand, or openly discuss my sexuality with my friends. However close I may become with my co-workers and neighbors, they will always be missing a part of me. Living in Jordan I have real and justifiable concerns that I never experienced in America. In addition to destroying my reputation in my community and rendering it impossible to successfully do my job, a rumor that I am gay could pose a serious threat to my physical safety. While homophobia and violence against gays exists in America, I have felt safe discussing my sexuality with my American colleagues and have never experienced any true acts of homophobia. My inability to openly discuss my sexuality in Jordan highlights the need for the continuation of yearly Pride events in America and around the world. If not to further the agenda of gay rights, Pride serves as a way to celebrate our right to be out in our communities and should continue until all members of the GBLT community worldwide can freely hold their own Pride events.
Nationwide Pride events have become increasingly about going out and hooking up, but the basis of Pride remains to support the right of the GBLT community to be visible, safe, and equal in our society and in the world. The importance of this has never been as clear as it is now as I sit with my new village friends discussing my future plans for a husband I will never have.
*name had been changed.