Why I’m Not “Proud”

Proud to be an American! Proud to be gay! Native pride!  These are just a few of some of the comments I hear or see fairly regularly.

Well, I’m not proud to be an American.  I’m not proud of being gay either.  And I don’t get this whole “pride” thing.

I don’t understand how someone can have pride in something they had nothing to do with.  I had absolutely no control over where I was born.  While the US government and some of my fellow citizens drive me nuts sometimes, especially during election season, it’s still a wonderful country.  I’m not ashamed of being American either.  Far from it! I just had nothing to do with which country the birth canal was located in when it was time for to make my debut into this world.

I’m not ashamed to be gay either.

Someone the other day asked if I was “out” on my blog.  Well, I don’t hide it, but you also won’t find me running around waving a rainbow Pride flag.  Like the color of my eyes or the fact that I sprouted my 1st grey hair when I was 12 years old, I had no choice in the matter.  For whatever reason I’m wired to be attracted emotionally and physically to someone of my same gender.

During an emotionally fragile time after a suicide attempt in my early 20s, I ended up joining a religion that led me to believe God could cure the gay out of me.  I married a woman and years later once again came to terms with the fact that being gay wasn’t something to cure, unlike when I was diagnosed with cancer.  Honestly, if I could change being gay, I would in a heartbeat.  Since I can’t, I choose to accept it and move forward accordingly.

I don’t go to gay Pride events for partly the same reason.  The other part being that the displays of behavior I have seen leave me feeling anything but pride in the queer community.

I’m also not proud of being an ethnic Jew, part Romani (aka Gypsy), or any of the other pieces of ancestry that one would find in my DNA.

Passed the instructor exams!

I’m proud of my accomplishments.  This time last year I was preparing for my instructor development course to become a scuba instructor.  When the instructor examiner read my final scores and let Tigger read the section on the evaluation slate that said “Congratulations, Talon, you are now an instructor!” I was proud.  I had worked my ass off to go from nondiver to instructor in just over 6 months.

I was proud the day the judge signed the adoption papers that made Tigger and I legally a forever family.  When a friend’s toddler thought her “baby doll” had been stolen, and Tigger went and got one of his favorite stuffed animals and gave it to her, I was proud.  I’m surprised my chest didn’t explode from pride.  When I see what a tremendous young man he is becoming . . . that I can be proud of.

And I am, of course, proud of our nomad life and the way we’ve grown because of our experiences thus far.  I’m proud of all the people who have shared their stories with me along my life’s path.  Their experiences and tales of regret ultimately led us to begin this crazy, wonderful, life-changing adventure.

And I bow in gratitude to them all.

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  1. Dn’ot get the whole ‘proud’ thing either, for sure! I mean, I understand it, to a degree ( I remember watching Korea compete in the Olympics when we lived in Paju, and I def felt happy to see them doing well), but pride means a tinge of competition, us vs them. Krishnamurti discusses that aspect a lot, when we align ourselves so much with a country, religion, etc that we somewhat alienate ourselves from others, to a degree.

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    • Being proud of the Olympic athletes makes sense to me. That’s an accomplishment! Great statement about us vs. them. I think that is very true.

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  2. Interesting post but I disagree. I understand I don’t have control over a lot of things in my life, but I am proud, happy and glad that those things are a part of my life. Pride doesn’t have to separate and divide people. In fact I think it can often do the opposite and inspire and encourage others—even those that may not share the same happenstance traits.

    Of course, TOO much pride can be harmful—but too much of a lot of things can be harmful….

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    • I’m not against taking pride at all. I just don’t understand the concept of being prideful of one’s orientation, ethnicity, gender, race, etc., since we have absolutely no part of that. For me pride is something reserved for accomplishments, things I’ve actively earned or participated in and so on. I’m sure for many people it’s largely semantics, though.

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  3. Ahh pride…pride, pride, pride. Now obviously I’m going to go on the homosexual tangent here. I realise that it’s not a choice, but I do feel it’s important for the gay community to be vocal and heard – but alas I don’t always agree with the way in which it’s shown. Am I proud to be gay? Not necessarily, but I’m proud of the people that went before me and fought to allow me the freedoms that I as a (British) gay man have today.

    It’s always a tricky subject, and I think Bret sums up a lot of issues in his comment when he talks about pride and prejudice often going hand in hand. “I’m a proud Christian so I’m going to hate you for being gay and just ignore what the rest of the Bible says to support my own prejudice”. That kinda thing.

    By the way that’s SO cute about Tigger giving one of his toys to the little girl who thought she lost her doll. Aww!

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    • Yes indeed! Silence can be deadly. I am extremely proud of those who have gone on before me and participated in things like Stonewall. I was even more proud of the Ugandans who recently marched for their Pride parade in spite of the “kill all the gays” attitudes and actions. Sitting back and waiting has never brought any group recognition or change. Totally agree.

      Thank you. He is such a giving, compassionate sweetie. I’d like to say he takes after me, but he teaches me an awful lot.

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  4. I just adore you guys! Doing everything for the right reasons. I could not agree more with you. I am happy and feel fortunate I was born in America, there are benefits that I can be happy about, but pride?? I never got that either and really it seems to be what leads to the crazy behaviors we see all the time!

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    • Thank you! Yes, I’m happy to be American, too. Sometimes I feel extremely fortunate to be from there. But, yeah, I preserve pride for things I’ve actually accomplished.

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  5. Hi Talon,

    I read your posts but very rarely comment, sorry for disagreeing with the argument you make here. I think you are interpreting the word ‘pride’ too literally. It is certainly not the same context as saying “i am proud of my mom” (pride in achievements). The minority pride movement is simply a stance taken against the day-to-day struggles that the minorities face. It’s a pride that stands facing its antonym, that of shame and suppression. It’s a revolt against the “normative” majority who would otherwise shut the minorities down without even realizing it.

    I understand that one’s sexual orientation or race are not necessarily the primary factors of one’s identity but when that factor is used to isolate and prosecute you, it starts to matter. Sexual orientation cannot be chosen – its not like wearing red shoes instead of white – yet discrimination against minorities is fundamentally woven into society whether consciously or subconsciously. (PS: Being a US American is a choice btw, you can change your passport; it is also a human-imposed system not a natural system.)

    Your arguments are justified in a utopian world but we are far from it today. Maybe in another 20, 30 or 50 years, one’s sexual orientation or ethnicity won’t matter and at that point the pride movements will automatically become redundant. Until then we could use some toned down exhibitionism during the parades, but that’s a separate discussion.

    cheers, Priyank

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    • Being born an American is not a choice. Remaining one certainly is.

      Let’s hope it happens within 20 years. I never thought I’d see the day a black was elected as president and where same-sex marriage would be allowed in Iowa, so positive surprises DO happen!

      I wish that in the 21st century these kinds of discussions didn’t need to occur. Sadly, they do.

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  6. On one level, I can understand questioning why someone would feel pride over things they had nothing to do with. But when you really consider the circumstances, it makes sense. Many of these traits, like race and sexual orientation, are things that make people part of minority groups. Minority groups are constantly fighting oppression and discrimination, so it’s perfectly logical why such people would want to bond together and feel proud of their community and their advancements in society. Being “proud to be black” or “proud to be Native American” or any other similar pronouncement makes perfect sense in that context.

    If we want to look specifically at sexual orientation, in a climate in which kids all across the country are killing themselves because they’re being told that being gay isn’t ok, it is absolutely essential that people stand up and say, “I’m proud to be gay,” so these kids realize nothing is wrong with them.

    I appreciate the thought-provoking piece but personally, I could not disagree more with this one 🙂

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    • Disagreement is healthy. 🙂

      It’s definitely a personal point of view. I personally prefer to encourage people to accept who and what they are and try to thrive within that. Identify those things you can and want to change about yourself, and work to change them. But the things you have no control over, i.e., race, ethnicity, gender, sexual identity are just parts of a total sum. I’m a dessert-loving father, writer, student, traveler, loyal friend, and compassionate person above being a gay Romani-Jewish-American Indian (I’m walking persecution! LOL).

      I know it’s a “dream world” scenario, but I would love it if society could focus more on the choices people make and use those to define others rather than relying on unhelpful, immutable, and potentially damaging labels. Hey, a guy can dream, right?

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  7. …a little LESS prideful, that should say.

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  8. I have issues with the whole pride thing as well. Nationalistic pride. College football pride. Racial pride. Religious pride. The problem is that all too often it feels as if Pride & Prejudice go hand in hand. In the process of celebrating how great “we” are, “we” separate ourselves from the “other,” who clearly are not as great as we are. Separation breeds misunderstanding, which breeds all manner of problems. I’m not naive enough to think all the people of the world will ever hold hands in a circle and sing “kumbaya,” but it does seem like being a little list prideful of being America, being white, being Christian, being gay, or whatever would be a good place to start…

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  9. I feel similar. I’m not proud to be Australian. I just love being Australian. Doing thing others would never dare to do is something to be proud of. And just who wouldn’t be proud of the adorable Tigger I ask ya??

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    • Definitely agree! I’m proud that I’m creating life on my own terms, and that I’m teaching Tigger to do so as well. And you are so right. He is freakin’ adorable. Not that I’m biased or anything.

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  10. Great post. Makes sense. And Congratulations on your real / life accomplishments.
    As you said, you can’t control what life you are born into but you sure can create the life that you want. And there is a lot to be proud of in that. And for that, I look up to you. Keep blazing your own trail my friend.

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    • Thanks, mate! Looking forward to reading more about the life you’re creating for yourself as well. 🙂

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  11. So love that you are proud of the little things in life that make all the difference. And I reckon you should be proud of who you are, as long as you are happy being Gay and you are happy be you, then dammit be very proud.
    After all you are living a life your way, with many adventures, and raising a son that has a gorgeous sharing nature. Thanks for sharing more about you and your son xxx

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    • If you aren’t happy being yourself, well, that’s something you have power over.
      Tigger really does amaze me. His introduction to this life wasn’t what he deserved, but he has an amazing spirit. It’s been so incredibly fun watching him grow.

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