Pride celebrations are a divisive issue. There are those who think they're nothing more than capitalistic machines with arms made of liquor, underwear, and rainbow goods. Maybe it is just that for some people, and that's okay. Pride doesn't have to be for everyone, but just because it isn't for everyone doesn't mean we still don't need it.
The queer community is bigger than one person or one group, and sometimes it's hard to remember that. It's a world of people who are often rejected and attacked for being who they are, expressing themselves in ways that feel right, and loving who they can't help but love. Pride events — specifically Pride parades — are about visibility and creating a sense of belonging for people who may not have it. It's about giving hope to people who may feel that life will never get better. Pride can mean so many things all at once, making it nearly impossible to describe or sum up.
It goes without saying that Pride, as vague as it can be, is often most important for the newest members of the community; those for whom being different from mainstream society is still a new thing. Without Pride, these emerging queers may become trapped within the mental and emotional stages wherein they believe they will be completely alone if they "come out." Almost all of us have been there. The fear is real. The shame is real. And no matter how much our closest confidants try (if you were even lucky enough to have one) we still can't believe things will get better because the world shows us, all too often, just how terrible queer life can be.
Pride is a place of solace and a place of safety for many of these people. It's an open door to new possibilities. It's proof that people like them are loved exactly as they are by other people, and that being queer isn't synonymous with being alone.
On the other hand, Pride is also necessary for those in our community who fought all those years ago to get us where we are today. They fought so that we could lead free(ish) lives with (some of) the respect we deserve. While the fight still goes on today, that doesn't mean we shouldn't take the time to celebrate and honor the rights we have because of queer warriors and allies. In many ways, Pride is a powerful way to show that we won, that we beat those who wanted to make America a place where queerness was hidden and shameful, and a place where being queer was thought of as a mental illness.
Of course, Pride is not for everyone. And that's still okay. That doesn't mean there's anything wrong with Pride. Some people outgrow it. Some people were never suited for it in the first place. But as long as there are still people who need Pride, we as a community should still continue to organize, continue to march, and continue to rise up.
Before you knock it, just think about the middle school kid for whom going to a Pride event is a dream because they're so excited to get to be themselves somewhere without fear of judgment. Think about the elderly gay man for whom pride is a reminder of how far we've come. Think about these people (and more) before you think solely about what Pride means to you.