Why LGBTQ+ Pride is CelebratedJune 2019 marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, a pivotal moment in LGBTQ+ history when patrons of the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in New York, fought back against cops after years of police brutality. The first gay pride parade was in honor of the one year anniversary of the riot.
When our right to exist is regularly challenged and politicized, when discrimination and violence are still a very real threat, the celebration of queer identities is a must in our ongoing fight for equality.
But for me, the local Pride festival and parade are no longer a part of that effort. I'd like to explain why.
Pride Has Sold Out to the Corporations
|Photo by Toni Reed on Unsplash|
Timeshares, banks, real estate companies, insurance companies, t-shirt companies, blah, blah, blah. Not even queer-owned business for the most part. And not always corporations with queer-friendly employment practices. But when booths cost $800+, who else can afford them? Certainly not queer authors like myself.
I am told that the money the local pride organizers charge goes toward LGBTQ+ charities and non-profits. And that is a very good thing. But the event itself has lost its soul. So I pass.
Uniformed Cops at PrideI want to make one thing perfectly clear. I am NOT a crook. Nor do I hate cops. I personally know several cops who are wonderful people. On the flipside, I am afraid of cops and for very good reason.
|Photo credit: Rhododendrites|
When I transitioned in the Deep (American) South in 1992, not much had changed. I had some scary encounters when stopped by law enforcement. Driving while Visibly Trans was a nightmare scenario.
But hey! That was long ago. It's not like that now, is it? I mean, we have Laverne Cox and RuPaul and Asia Kate Dillon on mainstream television.
And yet I regularly hear stories from my queer friends being harassed and bullied by law enforcement. And don't get me started on how we're treated by the TSA. And then there is the clear message from the Trump administration that queer people don't matter. We don't deserve to serve in the military. We don't deserve any protection from discrimination by employers or even doctors. We have no value as far as they are concerned.
|Photo credit: Fibonacci Blue on Best Running / CC BYCopy|
When north Texas cops are caught sharing racist memes on Facebook, when cops threaten to kill a pregnant, unarmed black woman in Phoenix because her four-year-old accidentally shoplifted a doll, do you think I want these same officers showing up wandering around the Pride festival grounds? Hell no!
I know there are many wonderful law enforcement officers. But when you are part of a marginalized community that has been historically abused by cops and continues to be, I don't want them anywhere near where we gather.
Queer cops are welcome, but not in uniform.
Pride Should Be a Safe Space and a Celebration of CultureI wasn't always so firm on this stance, but the recent events mentioned above, combined with my personal and community history, have changed my mind.
I want Pride to return to what it was, to reconnect with our roots. A declaration of our right to exist in peace and a celebration of our culture. Not a sellout to corporate America or a place where our oppressors refuse to give us a safe space.