OP-ED: Why I Dream of Madrid Pride for America
BY Jimmy Nguyen
July 20 2011 7:55 PM ET
For that to become reality, American gays will have to overcome our increasingly negative reaction that straights are “taking over” gay venues and events. Certainly, the LGBT community should have its own dedicated places. But if straight people want to outnumber us at the Halloween Costume Carnival in West Hollywood, by all means, we should welcome them with open arms. In fact, I long for a day when LGBT and straight populations integrate more seamlessly at venues and citywide events.
Finally, I dream for a time in America when straight and gay people are as well-integrated in metropolitan areas as they seem to be in Madrid. Madrid’s main gay neighborhood is called Chueca; not scurried away in some obscure corner of town, it is smack in the city center. Although there are many gay restaurants, bars, and businesses in Chueca, you also see straight people intermingling comfortably throughout the area. I saw many couples, both same-sex and opposite-sex, kissing and holding hands, as they strolled through the winding streets. The central Plaza de Chueca was an especially vibrant mix of gay and straight alike. In short, it’s everything I want cities in America to be — a well-harmonized fusion of residents where the “gay” neighborhood is equally populated by heterosexuals.
Years ago, one of my law school professors told me the LGBT movement in the U.S. will succeed when gay and straight people can just live openly with each other in the same communities. In Madrid that seems to already be happening.
I’m not oblivious to the fact that no country or city is perfect for the LGBT community. I’m sure Spain and its capital city have their fair share of issues to still overcome. But my quick adventure to Madrid Pride opened my eyes to a city’s life experience that I hope will come to America one day.
Now that I’m back home in Los Angeles, I still dream of Madrid for the ubiquity of Iberian ham, the great food, and the Spanish wine. I dream of Madrid for the wondrous plazas that make you want to just stroll and sit. But most of all, I dream of Madrid for the vision it provides for what gay life in America can be: an integrated community where straights can outnumber gay people on the streets as an entire city celebrates its vibrant LGBT population.