So Many Smiles

(Taiwan Pride, 4/5)

I guess naked people, explicit emphasize on (especially male) genitalia, kissing gay couples, and strangers of the same sex offering hugs (and more) might be a challenge for some. If that’s you – and if only a little bit – joining a pride parade can still be a great experience, maybe especially so. It’s hard to tell where our prejudice or biases come from, sometimes it’s even hard to tell that they are there.

When we can look at them and ourselves compassionately, our biases are often not much more than a lack of understanding and knowledge, a little bit of shyness maybe or fear, a reminder that every life is too short to experience everything that is human. Often though, they are just the mind playing tricks on us, and there is nothing better than to expose ourselves to reality one small step at a time, to experience what our actual reaction is when we see or feel something new.

Whether or not you can appreciate the sexuality of your own gender (and it is wonderful to do so!), Pride offers much much more. It’s a parade, after all, joyful, funny, exciting. It is a celebration of freedom, love, and individual rights that allow us to become our best selves. It creates a sense of togetherness and belonging, and this in a way that centers not on any person or group of celebrities – which is a very rare treat in our follower-obsessed times. There is free pizza.

Most of all though, it is a chance to exchange smiles with strangers, hundreds and thousands of them, for hours on hours on end. While many of those taking part in the parade are likely part of “the community,” people of all generations and states of life were joining to greet the parade. Taipei didn’t stop the traffic for it, we had to wait at traffic lights and walked along scooters and cars for some time. This was weird, but it also emphasized a certain naturalness. It reduced the difference between those taking part in the parade and those cheering from the sides, with both groups mingling and switching roles. Personally I think that is a great image for what LGBTQ-life in our societies should look like.

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