Wednesday, May 31, 2017

What Has Pride Become?

I see Pride has become like many celebrations and excuse to get smashed just St. Patrick’s Day, Cinco de Mayo, and now Pride. The corporate sponsors has stepped in… beer and liquor companies have helped defray the Pride festivals expenses.

This article from 2013 is just as timely today as it was back then.
Re-Queering Pride
How can we get back to the radical roots of our LGBTQ movement?
By Ngoc Loan Tran
July 25, 2013

The history of Pride in America

June was Pride month in the United States. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender folks from coast to coast celebrated the history of queer resistance led by drag queens, poor and homeless queer youth, and trans* women of color like Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson… oh what? Word? That’s not what you thought Pride was? Well, maybe that’s because it isn’t what Pride looks like these days.

For some members of the LGBT community, June arrives in an explosion of glitter and rainbows, complete with crowds of sweaty half naked gay men drinking Absolut Vodka and signing up for Wells Fargo savings accounts. But for others, June comes as a reminder that while Pride month is about LGBT folks proclaiming our existence, many of us – queer and trans*, disabled, fat, migrant, poor – have to try a little harder to be recognized, to have our histories remembered and our struggles made visible.
The Riots served as a catalyst for queer and trans* folks, particularly those living in New York City, to come together and work towards building a community invested in actively resisting targeted violence. A year after Stonewall, cities like Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York City held their first ‘Gay Pride’ marches to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the Riots that started it all.
I remember at one Pride that I attended back in 2009 on the fortieth anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising the event organizers had posters of those who took part in the uprising but there was a glaring omission… everyone on the posters were gay or lesbian, no trans people. When I questioned one of the organizers he made it even worst, he said that he couldn’t find any trans people who was in the uprising!
Today, Pride is no longer intentional in the way it is politicized. Pride events are divorced from their historical legacy, and they do not carry the same weight they once did. In the interest of transparency, I want to make it clear that I have only been to two Pride events: one in Charlotte, North Carolina and the other in Manhattan. But between these two cities and between these two Prides, I have an understanding of the general landscape of what Pride looks like today: sponsorships from major banks and corporations like JP Morgan Chase and Target, partnerships with major alcohol manufacturers like Absolut, and a plethora of non-profits wishing they had prettier branded merchandise to lure the gays (and their wallets) in with.
Pride celebrations today contradict the vision planted 44 years ago by reinforcing a hierarchy of desirability that queer and trans* people struggle with on numerous fronts. In many ways, this hierarchy is encouraged and upheld by the corporatization of Pride.
I realize that it cost money to hold a Pride festival or parade… insurance, police, city workers overtime, and a host of other expenses so the organizers have to look for corporate sponsors.

But when I walk around many of the Pride festivals I see many beer booths and a lot of drunken people. Many Pride events are making it a weeklong event with a different bar hosting the night’s function. Some Pride events are more of a family event with areas set aside for a children play area, many have face painting and other things for families.

However, many Pride festivals still focus on “PARTYING”

I hope that as marriages in the LGBT community become more common that the organizing committees turn away from liquor sponsors and look for more family orientated sponsors. There will always be those that want to party but hopefully it will be a minor part of Pride after all it all started in a bar.

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