Ryan Lee: The route from Super Bowl XLIX to Black Gay Pride

I’ve spent several Christmases by myself, and those were jolly occasions compared to the gloom that hit me mid-Sunday when I realized I didn’t have plans for the Super Bowl. I wound up watching the game alone at home, which felt like I was counting down the new year with Ryan Seacrest and Kathy Griffin: comfortable, but uncomfortably subdued.

It’s time we go ahead and recognize Super Bowl Sunday as a national holiday. It’s as American as the Fourth of July, and, like Christmas, “the reason for the season” is often an afterthought during the Super Bowl, with as many people interested in the commercials and halftime show as the game itself. The day has developed the social expectations that we seem to enjoy with our holidays—a time to be with friends, or develop curiously intense bonds with strangers who are cheering for the same team that neither of you care about that much.

For the past dozen years, Super Bowl Sunday has fallen in February, which has a low threshold for ratifying a holiday. It baffles me how the Information Age has yet to destroy Groundhog Day, like I’m going to trust Punxsutawney Phil over Siri or Yahoo! Answers.

My confusion over Groundhog Day has always been multi-layered. I never know which way I’m supposed to be cheering in regard to it seeing its shadow, and I’ve never known how I’m supposed to feel about six weeks of whatever. My co-worker tells me that six more weeks of winter is bad, although I’m sure my family in Chicago would rejoice at the thought of cold weather being gone by mid-March.

But this is a holiday. This rodent-based, geographically inconsistent, meteorological absurdity comes marked on every calendar, and certain towns celebrate with parades or ceremonies, groundhog-themed barbecues and beauty pageants.

I doubt there’s much overlap in the communities that go all-out for Groundhog Day and those that light up during Mardis Gras, another one of February’s halfway holidays. They’re different interpretations of peek-a-boo.

Of course, the most synthetic holiday of February is Valentine’s Day. February 14 barely trails December 25 when it comes to inducing societal angst – pressure to get the right gift, and to not be alone.

I’m grateful to consider Valentine’s Day as good as any day to be single. I don’t harbor the antipathy that the day triggers in some unpartnered people, and I don’t feel that the cultural celebration of love repudiates my traveling solo.

This is a holiday, because enough people celebrate it to make it significant.

And enough people celebrate the anniversary of Stonewall to where LGBT Pride is emerging as the nation’s most energetic halfway holiday of June. It’s unfortunate that Pride celebrations are pressured to be more than a good time. I suspect that those who complain about Pride being about nothing but parties and sex are the same people who give apples to trick-or-treaters.

Atlanta doesn’t have a June Pride, but the city has turned an otherwise sleepy Labor Day into one the primest holidays for black gay men across the country. And just as an army of bitter single people arise each year to oppose V-Day, there’s an annual parade of haters who are convinced that the entire concept of Black Gay Pride is racist and divisive.

If they stretched their field of vision, they might see that people find endless reasons to fellowship, and revel, and break-up the days and weeks that drift past in huge chunks. You don’t have to be a football fan to go to a Super Bowl party, or Mexican to do tequila shots on Cinco de Mayo—and just because I’m not Catholic doesn’t mean I can’t earn beads on Fat Tuesday.