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Aristotle: Gay Pride (LGBTIQ)

When I heard this was the Pride week edition, my first response was “Proud of what?” This was due to ignorance, not belligerence, but once I found out it was LGBTIQ Pride Week, and I had Googled the acronym, I decided it was still worth exploring the question. That’s what philosophers like to do.

For Aristotle (384 BC – 322 BC), pride, often translated as “magnanimity” from the ancient Greek, is the balanced understanding of one’s own, well earned, self-worth.

Your pride sits like a crown on top of your other virtues. If you’re truly worthy of praise, and you know it, you deserve to be proud. Too much pride and you’re up yourself. Too little pride and you’re a bit of a wuss. Your sense of pride should reflect your worth in a way that is just right.

I’m straight, and unless Paul Newman returns in the zombie apocalypse, still looking ok for his age, I probably always will be. Granted, I have a knack for being heterosexual, but have I worked hard and earned the right to be proud about it?

When Sydney’s Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras came up in conversation recently, a straight women asked, in annoyance, “why don’t we have a heterosexual parade?” That old chestnut.

Superficially, this is a fair point. No sexual orientation is earned. A mix of genetic, psychological, social and environmental factors mean we simply end up a certain way.

One might reply “I’m proud to be me!”

Superficially, this is a poor response. If pride was simply a matter of individuality, then every individual has a right to be proud. The concept is diluted and becomes meaningless. If you’ve ever been stirred into a caffeinated frenzy while studying, you’ll know that highlighting all the text on a page is as good as highlighting none of it.

So why should some people be more proud than others about their sexual orientation?

Because, in this social climate, it’s hard to be lesbian; gay; bisexual; transgender; intersexed; or questioning (thanks Google!). It takes courage – another of Aristotle’s virtues – to be out in the open, when who you are opposes a government enforced status quo.

Generations of minorities have had to stand up for their naturally occurring sexual orientation; gradually reclaiming equality. Given these efforts, future generations will not have to protest against ignorance and oppression. They won’t need to be proud. They will grow up in a culture that accepts them, and celebrates their place in the natural scheme of things.

This courage and hard work is something to be proud of.

This article was written to the soundtrack for my house-mate’s new stripping gig. I resisted the urge to write in a gyrating pentameter. Magnanimax!