It isn't just about being proud once per year.
There was a time when it took a lot of courage to go out and march down the street yelling, "We're here, we're queer, get used to it!" I'm sure in some parts of the country like the deep south, and possibly even in some remote areas of the Midwest, it's still tough to do that and feel safe. I remember walking with the "parade" at a Pridefest in my college town one summer, Kirksville MO. Kirksville only has a population of around 16,000. The Pridefest was really only a handful of people, probably around 15 or 20. The picnic we had started on the downtown square, where everyone had assembled. It was a Sunday so the downtown area was completely deserted. No one even noticed as we walked a lap around the square, but I think that's how everyone wanted it. Kirksville was the kind of city where people have guns in their homes to keep others off their property. They MIGHT be okay with gay people, but none of us were willing to find out firsthand.
In larger cities, the story is different. You can march down the street and feel completely safe, and completely accepted. JoeMyGod wrote an incredibly well worded blog about how the point of Pride is celebration. Pride isn't to show off to other people anymore and make our presence known; our presence is already known. Pride is a time for us. It's a time to celebrate.
We still have walls to break down in our communities though. Particularly, the leather/rubber/kink/fetish communities still have a reason to have a Pride parade. We live in a world where it's still not okay to be "out" and kinky. Most people don't feel comfortable with their friends, family, and co-workers knowing that someone likes to squeeze into some rubber or leather and get tied up or have casual sex on the weekends. It's just too much of a taboo subject and most "family" oriented people can't handle it. Even within our OWN gay community, people who are into kinks are often looked down on.
For kinky boys, being proud is still an act of revolution. Some say that they don't like going to Dore Alley or to the Folsom Street Fair because they feel like they become a circus attraction. People want to say hi, take pictures, etc. etc, and it would seem that a lot of kinky people don't wholly embrace this and keeps them from attending these events. Why? Personally, I wear leather and latex when I go out in Minneapolis rather frequently. Sometimes people say something to me; most of the time they don't. Every time someone has mentioned anything, they absolutely love it and have questions. I never mind answering questions for the curious! I'm proud that I'm being asked, and I'm proud of them for working up the courage to do so!
Just last night I was at The Saloon. It's one of my favorite bars in the Twin Cities. It's not really a kink bar, but rather just a regular gay boy/twink bar. There's a HUGE dancefloor, and if you ever want to go dancing in Minneapolis, this is definitely the place to go. The DJs are awesome. I was wearing a set of full dress leathers (boots, skintight leather pants, shirt, tie, Sam Browne, arm band) when I walked in the door with my other friends. I love going to the vanilla bars in gear. Those who were courageous enough to speak to me had nothing but good things to say about everything I was wearing.
And then came my favorite part. I love Gear Nights at the Eagle, but there's something inherent about leathermen and rubbermen; we don't dance. At least, not at the Eagle we don't. I hopped up on stage in my full leathers and danced my heart out to all my favorite songs. Eventually I took off the shirt and gave my tie to WillCo68 to wear around his neck. Sweat was covering every inch of my body and those skintight leather jeans felt amazing. So did the bodies I was grinding against. I felt whole there on stage, lost in the music of my life. I'm proud to be myself, a leatherboy, on that stage dancing my heart out and singing Katy Perry and Rihanna songs at the top of my lungs (off key though I'm sure).
And that's what Kink Pride is all about to me. In the words of Ke$ha, "We are who we are."
Pridefest is this coming weekend in the Twin Cities! General info is here.
Check out the MN Leather Pride events this week. Info is here. I'll definitely be around in Loring Park on Saturday and Sunday, most likely in some kind of latex or leather. Also, if you're around, consider putting something kinky on and walking in the Gay Pride Parade on Sunday morning with the LeatherPride flag. I did it last year, and it was an amazing experience I'll never forget! We'll be lining up to walk at 10am at the corner of 3rd and Hennepin. ANYONE is welcome to join us, you don't have to be a member of the groups.