01 July 2008

On Pride

I feel that the reason Pride (with a capital P) is even a thing -- a commemoration of The Stonewall Riots that triggered the beginning of the modern gay rights movement -- has been totally lost in the marketing of Pride as a commodity. Taken as a heartfelt reverberation from the events that led drag queens and gender-queer people to be beaten and bloodied as they raged against the police who had so unfairly singled them out, Pride is pretty frakking awesome.
Becoming a scantily clad advertisement on a float for a bar that is advertising the alcohol that they serve, has little to do with countercultural political protest or civil rights activism. Or does it? Does the fact that mainstream businesses use Pride as a billboard contribute to the movement in some way? I don't know. I generally think that the sponsors just want people to buy their stuff, and they'll slap a rainbow flag on it if it'll help with a demographic sale.
I hear arguments about the liberation inherent in celebrating the day in the most "free" way possible, stating that this is exactly what the Stonewall Girls were fighting for. (I'm sure Saint Sylvia Rivera would definitely agree.) However, there's still plenty to fight for, and -- despite the always-delightful inclusions of GSA's, PFLAG groups, gay parenting groups, political and social action groups, and, of course, Dykes on Bikes -- much of the festivities surrounding Pride ignore this, or merely pay it glossy lip-service.
If there were a clearer acknowledgment of the reason we have the day in the first place, I might be more pleased to participate in it: Pride as progressive, civil-rights movement. As it is, I do my very best to stay as far away from it as possible.
I'm proud of who I am, who I love, and how my life is. I don't need to wear a silver thong in public to somehow give that relevance or "celebrate" it.
I'm not sure what Pride as political movement would look like, but imagine the cultural impact of everyone who had planned on going to the Pride Parade on Sunday calling all of their elected officials instead, flooding their offices with calls encouraging them to take a stand for our rights. Donating beer and bathhouse money to a worthy cause; fighting for same-sex marriage, taking care of at-risk queer youth, advocating same-sex parenting rights, or working to defeat gay marriage bans, might be a better allocation of resources.
Shouldn't we be carrying the torch for the actual event that we are commemorating on that day? I think there is a historical imperative that we continue to ignore because it's not as much fun.
I think there is strength inherent in showing the world our liberated selves, I just feel like there should be more societal substance attached (and not the substances one tends to stumble over at 2am on Monday morning after Pride).
We are better than that, I would hope.


Lucky Michaels said...

speaking of which. i have heard of a great book about homeless LGBTQ Youth. just saw an exhibition of it in Berlin as well!

DV said...

I like your viewpoint- being straight, it wasn't until recently that I heard any dissention about the purpose of Pride. While the Parade is very helpful in making a community more aware, it's important to focus such an event towards issues and activism.