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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Column: Ending the LGBTQIA+ ‘argument’

How my Dublin Pride Parade experience opened my eyes to the many sides of the LGBTQIA+ ‘argument’

July 8, 2014

The opinions expressed by The Maneater columnists do not represent the opinions of The Maneater editorial board.

There are always two sides to an argument. The good and the bad. The right and the wrong. The compassionate and the unsympathetic. The fight for equality in the LGBTQIA+ community is no different.

At the end of June, I went to the Dublin Pride Parade in Dublin, Ireland (where I used to live); my first pride parade ever. I had seen pictures of these parades and accounts from people who have taken part in these marches on the Internet, but it was an entirely different experience actually being there. I had never seen so many people gathered to celebrate and fight for one cause before. Every type of person was present to show their full support for equal rights in the LGBTQIA+ community, from those wearing the colors of the pride flag from head to toe to those who had dyed their hair rainbow for the occasion.

The floats were mesmerizing, as well. Some groups rented double-decker city buses and blasted music while members danced on top, while others held up meaningful posters that raised awareness to a particular sexuality or issue. My friends and I marched in the parade that day. Waving my pride flag high in the air, I felt happier and more comfortable than I had for a while. It was liberating.

But it was still a march regarding a highly contested topic. This meant that there was still a division; two sides to the argument.

As we walked along the street, flags in hand and whistles blowing, a burly man on the side of the road piped out with a bellowing ‘Hey!’ It was directed to two men walking in front of my friends and I. They were holding hands, their fingers comfortably intertwined with each other. It was obvious that they were a couple. I thought this man, middle-aged with a long beard and mustache and wearing a camo shirt, on the side of the road was going to say something obscene and rude to the couple. Suddenly, the man on the side yelled, ‘I’m so glad you found each other!’ while giving them a big thumbs-up and an eager grin. I was utterly perplexed. I thought this was going to be the start of a big rife. By preparing to combat somebody else’s prejudices, I had forgotten about my own. It was enlightening and breathtakingly beautiful.

However, not everybody was as accepting. After the parade, my friends and I decided to take the train back to my house. Still holding our flags and dressed in our rainbow attire, we found a seat near the back of the carriage. A group of kids, no more than 12 years old, sat down in the group of seats next to us. We were minding our own business, when they decided to engage us in conversation about the ‘gay parade,’ as they called it. They asked us immature questions and made incorrect assumptions about what one does at a pride parade. They even asked us about our sexuality, which I consider a private and personal subject. Although they were probably just bothering us for fun and they didn’t mean any harm, this incident was surprising coming from kids so young. What could have pushed them to make those remarks? How were they able to foster such thoughts about this topic? Who could have influenced them to speak this way?

Even though the LGBTQIA+ community is gaining more momentum and support throughout the world, they still have a long way to pure equality. The way of thinking that is instilled in some people and taught to young children about these issues in a negative light has to be changed, and that takes a while. But the more we talk about these issues, the more people will become accepting towards it. Hopefully one day, it won’t even be an argument.

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