My firm's diversity committee sponsored a screening of the short (30 Min) documentary "Gay Pioneers." I went, though I was dreading it. I worried that this film would be the "woe-is-us, we're all victims" whine fest that I despise. I was quite pleasantly surprised. The film was all about the first (pre-stonewall) demonstrations for equal rights for gays and lesbians. The tone of the film was the much more optimistic "we've come such a long way (even if we still have a long way to go)" message that I and I think straight people can better relate to. I actually recommend it highly.
One thing that struck me: in the first Mattachine demonstrations (1965-1968) they had a strict code of dress and conduct. At the time they were fighting the misconception that gays were only a bunch of weirdo queens. Instead men had to wear suits; women had to wear dresses. They had to lower their signs when they played patriotic songs. They had to be respectful but firm. The message they wanted to convey was "we are upstanding citizens just like you." Contrast that with Pride today.
What does this say about us? It could go either way. On the one hand you might say our pride events that resemble gay Mardi Gras are doing nothing more than perpetuate the stereotype that we are weirdos. On the other, you might say, how great it is that we can be so visible, campy, and celebrate our differences without the (great) fear of people throwing stones at us. One could argue that the pride events of today have lost the message in favor of a week long party. Others might argue that Pride is more of a celebration of who we are than it is about gaining recognition, so a party is appropriate.
Not sure yet where I fall. I did enjoy my first "out" Pride this summer. But I do understand the importance of demonstrating that gays are just like ordinary citizens. Nonetheless, coming out of the closet is all about being honest instead of conforming to the requirements of society. These Pioneers in the 60s paved the way for social change that ALLOWS us take a weekend, week, or even whole month in most major cities to celebrate our progress and work towards even more. Then back on the first hand, I know that lots of people look at Pride as a prime example of the "decadence and immorality" of our community, making progress even harder. I don't have an answer here, and I would appreciate hearing your thoughts.