Democratic gubernatorial hopefuls Mark Taylor and Cathy Cox are skipping this weekend's Atlanta Pride festival, drawing predictable condemnation from local gay leaders.
Chuck Bowen, executive director of the state's largest gay rights organization, Georgia Equality, said he is "disappointed" that neither Democrat will attend this year's Pride festival, one of the largest events of its kind in the nation.
"There will be 250,000 people in [Piedmont Park] this weekend, and it's a tremendous opportunity for them to meet Georgians from across the state and hear what we have to say," he said.
Regrettable, perhaps, but understandable. Quoting myself, in a column I wrote for The Los Angeles Times a few years back, "The gay movement hasn't matured; it's grown stale. Pride marches have turned into shopworn cavalcades of been-there, done-that decadence."
Don't you know the GOP would exploit that to the hilt? It's easy to imagine a campaign commercial featuring Cox or Taylor speaking in front of a group of bears in leather jockstraps. Democrats have a hard enough time appealing to an increasingly conservative electorate without those sort of distractions.
And should people who wear leather jockstraps in public expect to be taken seriously? Granted, they're not representative of the majority of Pride celebrants, but the minority is well represented by -- shall we say -- the outrageously flamboyant. I'm not for discrimination of any kind -- and that includes the more freakish elements of the GLBT pie -- but if you want "the establishment" to recognize, sometimes you have to play the game.
Besides, is this weekend even about politics? For some, yes, but most are just out for a good time.
Reality may be inconvenient, but we avoid it at our peril. The gay community's justifiable struggle for relevance also requires a look inward. We may compare our crusade to the civil rights movement of the 1950 and 60s, but can we honestly say we comport ourselves with the dignity of those who marched on Selma?