This past weekend, I saw more rainbow flags than I had previously seen in the 26 years of my life combined. Everything – the White House, corporate logos, and especially my Facebook feed – suddenly was covered in the colors of gay pride. Since Friday, an astonishing 26 million people have overlain their profile pictures with semitransparent rainbow stripes, a feature Facebook created to celebrate gay pride after the Supreme Court’s historic ruling in favor of same-sex marriage.
But the more flags I saw last weekend, the more uncomfortable I felt.
I’ve earned the right to claim pride through years of internal strife over my sexuality. Others have died in the name of gay pride. More still have been jailed, have been disowned by their families, and have sued their state governments for it. Gay pride is not something you can claim by waving a flag. The rainbow symbol is easy to co-opt, but the experience it represents is not.
That’s why it wasn’t comforting to see hundreds of my Facebook friends’ profile pictures draped in rainbows. It didn’t feel like they were understanding my struggle; it felt like they were cheapening it, celebrating a victory they had no part in winning.
While I see the points the author is making here, and I understand that a lot of people who flew the rainbow flag were doing it as a fad, I would like to pose a question. How many of those 26 million people are in fact gay, bi, transgender, etc but have not come out yet? Furthermore, how many of those 26 million have a friend or family member who is LGBT? Maybe I’m am incurable optimist, but I don’t think most people used the rainbow Facebook profile pic as an image-booster. I myself lost friends over my outspoken opinions on the matter. Which is fine by me, because I’ve always had very firmly-held opinions and have seldom hid them away! But others most certainly have lost friends and even family members over their support of the Supreme Court’s decision. While that doesn’t compare to being bullied, ostracized, discriminated against, harassed, and even killed for openly embracing the sexuality and identity you are born with, it still speaks volumes to the very real level of support that is being offered by members of society. Instead of telling people to stop attempting to show solidarity after a historic victory of human rights, maybe we could all just be grateful that so many more people are supportive, rather than spewing hatred.