Chris Watson Intercultural Communications Prof.

Nathaniel September 17, 2011 Homo-Beings

I have been told many times that, “You should not be afraid of the unknown”. My imagination has the tendency to create environments with a negative feel to them when it is somewhere I am scared to go. I have also been told that, “you should not knock something until you try it”. Being that I am a very picky person about the things I choose to do with my life, I sometimes hinder myself from some the beautiful things that life has to offer. The Pride Charlotte Festival is something that I have heard about more than once before this class. Being the, sometimes, picky person with the negative imagination, I was very skeptical about the event, but I always wondered what the “Pride” festival was all about.

“This is it,” I tell my best friend as we cross the street to enter the Pride Charlotte Festival. It is about five o’clock in the evening on this beautiful day in Charlotte, North Carolina. I notice all the tents, selling food and souvenirs, and rainbow flags everywhere. “Excuse me, sir,” a man says coming between my best friend and me, “I’m taking pictures of people who have mohawks, fohawks, and anything that falls in those categories. Do you mind me taking a picture of you?” I look over at my best friend with hesitation, then, I say, “Ok.” He takes my picture and walks away. My friend explains to me that she thought I knew him or he was trying to get my phone number by

the way he barged between us. As we continue to walk down South Tryon, we notice there are performances going on to the left of us. We stop to view.

The performances are nothing out of the ordinary for us being that we have seen performances like these at the club. The drag queens come out on the stage and perform “Cell Block Tango/ He Had It Coming” from the musical and film Chicago. The audience loves every minute of it. My friend and I just watch. After a while of watching more performances, we decide to finish walking down the street to see what else is there at this festival. As we walk and observe, we stop to take pictures and look at the merchandise that can be purchased under each tent. We make our way all the way to the end of the street, then, we turn back around and head back to the performance area. Now we are just observing our surroundings and letting the memory of this event soak in. We see all these crazy hairstyles, and a few ridiculous outfits that people are wearing and laugh. We also see a few familiar faces and some happy couples, which are not often seen in the LBGT community. Two hours have now past and we decide that it is time to go.

My experience at the Pride Charlotte Festival was, indeed, one that I will never forget. It was totally different from what I had imagined it to be. Before going, I thought it would be filled with a bunch of drama because many people in that community have drama, and also a bunch of hate because I heard from someone that there were people protesting against the LBGT community at the last Pride festival. With this event being the total opposite of my imagination, it definitely presented the culture of the LBGT community. In Communication Between Cultures, Triandis defines cultures as:

…A set of human-made objective and subjective elements that in the past have

increased the probability of survival and resulted in satisfaction for the participation in an ecological niche, and thus became shared among those who could communicate with each other because they had a common language and they live in the same time and place (qtd. in Samovar, L.A., Porter, R.E., & McDaniel, E.R., 2010 p.23) .

The LBGT culture is very diverse; yet, they are all one in the same. They all know how it feels to feel out of place in a world where the norm is to be heterosexual and gender plays a major role in who you are supposed to be. Larry Samovar, Richard Porter, and Edwin McDaniel, authors of Communication Between Cultures, state that culture is shared not only through family, peers, media, schools, and churches but also through values, ideas, and perspectives (p.36) . The LBGT culture is shared amongst all the members of this community. For example, though every individual at Pride was not dressed in drag or, for females, dressed as a stud, everyone enjoyed watching the drag queens during their performance. They all shared that moment because it is originated from their community and only they know the true meaning behind.

Samovar, Porter, and McDaniel also explain that culture is based on symbols. The most known symbol for the LBGT community is the rainbow flag. The rainbow colors can be seen in any form or fashion all throughout the Pride Festival. It is a way that this community expresses who they are and it also exhibits togetherness. It communicates not only to it’s own kind but the people outside of the community as well. Being that the LBGT community is still fighting for certain rights, it is key to their survival that they stick together as one. An example of this would be if a young man had

been put out by his family for coming out of the closet, he might not be so afraid to approach someone he sees with the rainbow on them, in some shape or form, to ask for help.

My last example leads me to the emphasis of how the LGBT community is a family. According to Samovar, Porter, and McDaniel, the deep structure of culture consists of family. I know that many individuals in this community have a “gay” family, which consists of those who took them under their wing when their biological family turned away from them. A definition of family, by Noller and Fitzpatrick, says that, “[a family is] a group of intimates, who generate a sense of home and group identity, complete with strong ties of loyalty and emotion, and an experience of history and a future” (qtd. in Samovar, L.A., Porter, R.E., & McDaniel, E.R, 2010 p.54). To be able to have people, sometimes strangers, take you in because your sexual orientation is different from the “norm”, is absolutely amazing. It exemplifies the love and sympathy that this community has for its people.

I would like to end by saying that I learned a lot from this experience at the Pride Charlotte Festival. I was able to view it with a new pair of eyes and put my negative viewpoint to the side. A culture can be quite fascinating when you allow yourself to be a part of it and to grow from the things you learn about it. I am sure the LBGT community would gladly have me come out to support their event again, and I know that I would not hesitate to partake in this event again. I was told by a communications professor that, “there is no right, there is no wrong; there is just different, and different is okay”. I can truly say that I know the meaning behind that



Samovar, L.A., Porter, R.E., & McDaniel, E.R. (2010). Communication between

Cultures. (7 ed.). Boston, MA: Wadsworth.

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