Of all the stupid things that have fallen out of George W. Bush's mouth over the last eight years, "Bring 'em on" was perhaps the most idiotic.
When I heard that the theme for this year's Pride festivities in Portland was "Bring it On," I didn't flash on that camp cheerleading movie. I flashed on Bush and the disastrous war in Iraq and all the insurgents that accepted the president's gracious 2003 invitation and brought it. I flashed on Iraq even though you're bringing "it on" over Pride weekend in Portland, and not "'em on," as in Baghdad.
Now I realize that serving on the committee that organizes parades and arranges for porta-pottys and selects themes is a thankless task—I've served on one and I have the emotional scars to prove it—so I don't want to seem like an ingrate or one of those Pride-Sunday-morning quarterbacks. But the theme "Bring it On" is... well, it couldn't possibly have consequences nearly so disastrous as "bring 'em on" (let's hope), but it seems just about as idiotic.
What is this "it," exactly, that we're being encouraged to bring over Pride weekend? Bring our asses back to Pride? Bring our drag queens out into the daylight? Bring our substance abuse problems—the booze, the cigarettes, the drugs—down to the waterfront?
Or is "it" something more?
Pride should be colorful and Pride should be a party and Pride should be a celebration. But if we've learned anything over the last few decades it should be this: Pride parades, T-shirts, jewelry, windsocks, and flags just aren't enough. Like a Catholic that only makes it to mass on Christmas Eve, the queer that only makes it to the Pride Parade once a year may feel like he's doing his bit, but he isn't.
You wanna bring it, Portland?
You brought it to city hall—congrats, Sam—but you gotta bring it over to Salem and down to California for the gay marriage fight this fall and to the ballot box this November to put an end to the right-wing war on gay and lesbians rights. Then you gotta send some of it—in the form of money and moral support—to the beleaguered queers in Russia, where gays and lesbians can't march without being beaten in the streets, and to Jamaica, where gays and lesbians are lynched with impunity, and to Gambia, where the president is threatening to behead homosexuals (and two Spanish men, accused of being gay, were arrested last weekend).
Pride parades are great—I love 'em, maybe I'll see you there. But let's not fool ourselves: Pride should celebrate the work we did last year and the work we plan to do this year. You want to bring something to Pride? Bring results. Bring your checkbook. Bring a commitment to getting involved.
Are you listening? Will you bring it?