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A group of gay men had an interesting discussion about transgender people the other day. "Since June is coming up," one of the group and new forum member Callingkard says, "there are many cities doing their gay pride events/parades," but "it was felt by some that the parades really represent more of the transgendered community and not the gay/lesbian community."

Callingkard was surprised by the strong feelings the other guys at the bar had on the issue. Some felt that the "flamboyance" seen at parades "rather distorts the impressions of what gay/lesbian is to the straight community."

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Callingkard brings up a couple of issues. If we look at the history of prides, protest was at the center of celebration and much of the same is still true. Most of the floats, even those clad with shirtless dancers, carry banners for organizations that increase awareness for a variety of LGBT issues. Not to mention, transgender people were the first to throw heels during Stonewall, the event many see as the start of the modern gay rights movement. So, while the flamboyance of transgenderism may seem a spectacle, in many ways it's a tribute to the events that allowed prides to flourish. However, as Callingkard asks, where does the trans community fit within our alphabet?

Long-time member, Tony, points out that "being transgendered and being gay are two very different things" and as a gay person he has "no understanding of what a transgendered person goes through, feels, or experiences." However, as 'sexual minorities' gay and trans people "face many of the same obstacles." Yet, the flag may be one-sided when we consider our individuality. "Many transgendered people go through a stage where they identify as gay before realizing they are transgendered, so many transgendered people have a decent understanding of the gay community even if many gay people don't understand transgendered people all that," Tony says.

And what of our audience? Some believe barely-clothed guys and painted queens on floats send a wrong message about the LGBT community, while others feel that they can express themselves however they wish. Do we march for ourselves or for straight spectators?

Snoops, a straight member of the forum, says the "goal is to get people to accept diversity, not just a single segment of a large community." It's a parade after all, Snoops is quick to point out. "It is about putting on a show. I'd hate to tell them to tone it down. I think there's already too much anti-fem/flamboyance sentiment going on," she says after noting that the issue is further complicated when we consider that drag queens differ from transsexuals, and so on.

As sexual minorities, we are in ways different from straight people, which has historically made it easier to sift us into just two categories: them and us. However, as we grow into ourselves as a community and realize our differences, is there a greater divide?

Discuss here.
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