Pride Parade - EP (Digital Download)
When I was 20 I attended NYC Pride - my first pride parade after coming out as bi/pansexual (it's not until later that I would come to terms with my asexuality, and the confusing, seemingly paradoxical tension between those two shifting parts of my identity).
Just three days earlier, the Supreme Court had legalized gay marriage across all 50 states. It was amazing to experience firsthand the amount of progress this country had made thanks to the tireless efforts of the LGBTQIA+ community. I was blown away by the acceptance, the proud displays, the embrace of love in all its forms. Cheering crowds, incredible outfits, a whole lot of people loving life.
I was less impressed by what I would later see as persistent problems with pride, both the parade and the concept. The event was heavily corporatized (just who is pride supposed to be for, anyway? The 1%? The "corporate citizen"?) and certain minority groups were barely represented. Homonormativity remains problematic. As the title track of this EP goes,
"Pink, lavender, blue, black and grey, white and purple
Not there today"
On a personal (subjective) level, I was frustrated by the level of enthusiastic visibility expected from those marching and by the party culture that had developed around the event. I couldn't help but feel a bit alienated, like I couldn't celebrate pride in my own way.
I’m not against pride, but I’m distrustful of it. As a mentor once told me, it's dangerous to be too proud of yourself and/or your work. Pride leads to arrogance (e.g. narcissism, the inability to practice empathy) and/or nationalism (the subsuming of self to support a regime)*. Pride is what causes people to enact violence in the name of some nebulous idea. It’s what causes people in power, or celebrities, to lose their minds. Pride can have an immediate utility, but if left untempered it will soon become destructive. Pride tries to make a fool of humility but only ends up humiliating itself.
The EP Pride Parade is about acceptance, love, and empathy. It's about complicated and shifting identity, and it's about misunderstandings, outings, and pivotal life events. I hope it speaks to you. These stories may be drawn from my life, but they are about something much larger than me.
-- Eric Benoit
*These concepts may seem contradictory, but they're not. Often it's the most prideful, self-centered, and arrogant people who become the most willing to give up independent thought for an outside ideal - a government, religion, philosophy, etc. Then they’ll arrogantly and self-righteously defend atrocities they commit in the name of that ideal. The irony is always lost on them.