Pride is defined as the quality of having an excessively high opinion of oneself or of one’s own importance. While St. Augustine might have said, Pride is the love of one’s own existence, it is Meher Baba’s take on pride that I tend to agree with. He said pride is the specific feeling through which egoism manifests.
Proverbs cautions against pride, When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom. (Proverbs 11:2 NIV) Chapter 16 of Proverbs also warns against pride, Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before the fall.
Pride is synonymous with hubris, in that it is a foolish and irrationally corrupt sense of one’s personal value, status, or accomplishments. Pride is compared to self-idolatry, sadistic contempt, and vanity. In Judaism, pride is called the root of evil. Pride is one of the seven “deadly sins” according to Roman Catholic theology. Pride is first on the list, and is noted as the inspiration for further sinful behavior.
From a humanistic psychological view, pride is often attached to ego, if pride emerges, it is always a false front designed to protect an undervalued self.
For many years, I have wrestled with these foundational nuggets of wisdom. I was fortunate as a child to have been given the distinction between self-confidence (and healthy self-esteem) versus egoic pride— which if left unchecked, can turn into extreme narcissism or extreme depression. Knowing all of this makes it exceedingly difficult to embrace any form of celebratory Pride allyship.
It’s more than just a philosophical, psychological, or theological conundrum. Pride has been transformed into one of the best marketing ploys in the West. Rainbow retail has become emblematic of corporate cowardice. Each summer cycle, more corporate companies join the Pride bandwagon and begin offering rainbow merchandise so you can show your support to the queer community. McDonald’s fries are served with special rainbow packaging during the month of June.
Professional sports teams are even forcing athletes to wear rainbow symbols on uniforms or face public scrutiny for refusing to comply. The Tampa Bay Rays recently made headlines because several players on the team refused to wear a rainbow logo on their uniforms. Writer James Kirchick— a self-identified member of the LGBTQI+ community—said in response to this matter, “My self-worth is not dependent on somebody else wearing a rainbow on their shoulder patch.”
Pride was once meant to symbolize a persuasion of acceptance and equal rights, but it has turned into a symbol of coercion, special/ separate treatment, exclusive exceptions, special privileges, and cultural ignorance. Laws were instilled to protect individuals from discrimination or job loss based on sexual orientation. The goal was met. It is illegal to discriminate against someone based on their sexual orientation.
But new agendas have been set. Anyone who has been paying attention can see this. How you perceive the agenda, of course, varies. It’s no longer about ensuring that if you are gay or lesbian, you can’t lose your job or be denied health insurance, or be refused a license to marry. Today, from my view, it appears that the rainbow is the new black, and it’s trendy and available to be gobbled up by greed. Queerness can be propagandized and become the ultimate political talking point. I am confused by how either of these narratives persuades acceptance or protects rights, however.
Pride is of the ego. This is a sentiment that I had embraced years and years ago when I began walking the path of consciousness. I recall Alan Watts, the Dalai Lama, Eckhart Tolle, and Richard Rohr all echoing similar sentiments. Swiss psychoanalyst Carl Jung unfolded the concept of the ego by way of addressing the Shadow self. But if you’ve been a follower of Jesus, the same notion is echoed repeatedly through the Gospels and even in the Apostle Paul’s letters. Pride gets in the way of humility, and we are called to be humble servants, are we not? So then, how do we make sense of honoring our principles when everywhere you look during the month of June, the opposite narrative is supported.
Social psychologists have taken note. The concept of pride is a complex emotion—a secondary emotion— that requires the full development of a sense of self. When you have a developed sense of self, you don’t depend on boastful spectacles to convince others that you are secure with who you are —and how you fuck. I think this is why so many heterosexuals and many same-sex individuals question the necessity of Pride parades and performances. When someone is secure in who they are, they don’t need external validation from others. The idea that an adult requires another adult to validate and praise a person’s sexual orientation is a tall-tell sign of insecurity.
Pride is predicated on egoic behaviors, but it has also taken an odd detour toward debauchery. I wholly support erotic fantasy, and I will always endorse erotic evolution, but what Pride has turned into is the antithesis of eroticism and authentic connection. It lacks spirit and sacredness, and there is nothing seductive or mysterious about the boastful and blatant displays of a disconnected sense of self and sense of self-respect. Couple that with the grotesque hypersexualization of an entire community, what Pride represents currently is, as I recently heard it, “perversity dressed up as diversity.”
Take, for example, the recent performance by Christina Aguilera at a Pride festival in Los Angeles, CA. An all-ages event organized to celebrate pride, and Miss Dirty herself dons a green, glittery strap-on dildo during one of her performances. Pride is also a great way to advertise for the sex toy industry, apparently. Mainstream media ranted and raved about her daring costume design. And those who found the spectacle inappropriate? Booed and condemned as bigots and homophobes. It makes me wonder why the MSM tries so hard to normalize sexual debauchery and perversion within the queer community. Is this the message that depicts equal rights and acceptance?
Is Pride worth celebrating? Does it help encourage equal rights and acceptance? Or is it merely another layer of the increasing narcissistic behaviors that are plaguing our country? I’ll leave that to you to decide. As for me, I will not be waving my Pride flag and I will not be condoning dildo dancing spectacles at events in which children are present. But if you need the spectacle of June’s Pride celebration to rock out with your cock out, just make sure you aren’t flashing your stash to children.