I’ve been going over what to say in my annual Pride post for weeks now. A precarious moving situation precluded me from attending the festivities here in New York this year, but Pride is never something that I can forget about. This post will be short and probably frustratingly unspecific, but so too are my feelings about Pride.
The corporatization of Pride is an eternal thorn in my side. These corporate sponsors reinforce compulsory heterosexuality on the other three hundred and sixty-four days every year. These corporations funnel money into political platforms that support their interests at the expense of the interests of the LGBTQ community. Many queer people are among the growing numbers of the working poor. Corporate interests also often align with conservative political parties which routinely work against queer interests and stripping of queer people of rights and freedoms. These corporations are only interested in securing queer money, however plentiful or sparse that might be.
Pride is not a party.
Let me repeat that. Pride is not a party. The Pride March in New York City is not a Parade like the balloon-filled spectacle of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day. It is a March a la funereal. Pride celebrations began as a commemoration of the Stonewall riots. The riot occurred in response to systemic police brutality as well as widespread discrimination and violence at the hands of society in general. While I understand the argument that things are different now and that LGBTQ acceptance is trending positive, it is a fool’s errand to forget our history. We have every right to reclaim Pride as a celebration of queerness, but we must not do so at the expense of the memory of what we have sacrificed to get us here.
Gatekeepers are not welcome here. I am a queer person. I should not be afraid to go to Pride. I should not fear being accosted for the fact that I am currently participating in a straight-passing relationship. I am a bisexual, genderqueer person who lived as a transman for nearly two years. I have been in straight-passing and queer-passing relationships alike. I belong in the queer community, as do scores of other queers rendered invisible by gatekeepers. Asexuals, aromantics, bisexuals in straight-passing relationships or who have never been in a same-gender relationship, straight trans people, the HIV-affected, and all the others who identify as part of the LGBTQ community belong here. There are no dues to pay.
We need to support our queer brothers and sisters year-round. It’s great that Pride exists and that many place host festivities, but we need to maintain focus on queer issues beyond the hot, sticky, sexy nights of summer.