Pride and Fear
Pride – a strong sense of self-respect, a refusal to be humiliated, a joy in the accomplishment of oneself or a group that one identifies with. Says it all, doesn’t it?
What it doesn’t say is that there is another word that works in opposition to pride—the word Fear– a feeling of agitation and anxiety caused by the presence or an unpleasant feeling of perceived risk or danger, an extreme dislike toward certain conditions, situations, objects or people which can lead to social problems if not properly handled. J. A. Froude said, “Fear is the parent of cruelty.” That says even more, doesn’t it?
How interesting it is to me that we have to gather as a group once a year on a hillside in Kansas City just to show our pride. Don’t get me wrong—I think it’s wonderful, empowering, liberating. But it’s still sad that this was originally organized to show the rest of the community that they could no longer humiliate us. And still that humiliation goes on, doesn’t it? Each day we are presented with bitter obstacles and different fears and relentless efforts to stop our advancement as an accepted group and respected citizens of our nation.
Do you know that 16 states, including our illustrious states of Kansas and Missouri, are considering laws to prevent gay parents from raising children? As a parent of a grown son who I had custody of his entire life, I fear that our lawmakers are reacting to a select few who would condemn the sexual practices of a portion of our society, neglecting and forgetting the welfare of children in need of morally conscious and socially upright individuals who will love, nurture, and put that child and that child’s needs above all else in their fulfillment of parenting, which has nothing to do with an individual’s sexual persuasion. I’m so proud of my son and my parenting. He’s worked at UPS for 13 years, since he was 17, and contributes to our society immensely. What makes me even more proud is that I believe him to be proud of me.
We have seen the restriction of acceptance of gay unions, which is finally an enlightened choice I am glad to see members of our community taking. To make the commitment to spend your life with one person, to be bound by the laws of our society’s view of marriage, and to ask for acceptance with that decision—isn’t that what we were all brought up dreaming of, to pursue, to work toward in our young lives? What fear does our nation have in granting a license for two people to join together in the HOLY bonds of matrimony? Isn’t that a church’s place to decide if they want to sanction that union? I am so proud that members of my community want to commit, be held up in the eyes of their God, their parents, their congregation, their community. It makes me beam.
I fear I might have to wear a pink triangle branding me as an unacceptable person in the country I so admire and respect and believe in. Our declaration to the King of England said: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”
I fear my pursuit of life, liberty and happiness has made me unsafe in a growing hostile environment. I fear that naivete and an inability to tolerate people’s differences are rapidly changing our world into a less accepting and tolerant society. I fear that one day we might not be able to gather together on a hillside to show our pride. I fear that one day the fears of others toward us will silence our voices and make us all feel humiliated, with no sense of self-respect or feeling of accomplishment.
So I charge all of you: Be proud. Be loud. Be responsible. Change the world. And if you really look at how easy it’s been in the past six years to change our world, I think it will send you reeling. It’s up to us, it starts with me, and you, and only me and you. Do you want to enjoy the liberties that are taken from us daily? Do you want to gather on this hilltop each year and celebrate our individuality? Then, show your pride – know that you are respected, you have accomplishments. Face your fears. Help those who are afraid to recognize that they have nothing to be afraid of. Do you “wanna change the world?” As our slogan of Kansas City Gay Pride this year says, “There’s nothing to it.”
Rick Bumgardner is a Co-Director of Public Relations for Kansas City Gay Pride 2006, a co-owner of Morning Glory Antiques and proud father of his son Jeremy. He lives in Kansas City with his partner, Kris Walker.