A friend recently posted on Facebook, “reasons i don’t care i missed pride,” and quoted a piece of writing by William Lukas called “GAY PRIDE™ IS”.
GAY PRIDE™ IS /// JUN 2014
Gay Pride™ is subordination to the State and Empire.
Gay Pride™ is homage to capitalism, patriarchy, and white supremacy.
Gay Pride™ is co-optation of queer radicalism by liberals, Democrats, academics, hipsters, and NGOs.
Gay Pride™ is the eradication of trans bodies and narratives, and queer militancies.
Gay Pride™ is gala events for the elite.
Gay Pride™ is walking past homeless queer youth.
Gay Pride™ is assimilation into straight society.
Gay Pride™ is corporate.
Gay Pride™ is destruction of queer histories of mutual-aid, resistance, shame, promiscuity, creativity, humor, love, community, brutality, poverty, and disease.
Gay Pride™ is “we’re just like you”.
Gay Pride™ is safe, privileged, accommodationist, vanilla, temporary, and very boring.
Gay Pride™ is to ignore trans women of color being beat by police and murdered by street bigots.
Gay Pride™ is to achieve equality and sameness, to settle and be conditional, to compromise. Nothing more. Always less.
Gay Pride™ is forgetting about those affected by HIV/AIDS.
Gay Pride™ is “straight-acting”, “masc only”, “promise I’m not that gay tho”, “sry no effeminate guys”, “not into Asians”, “prefer white guys”, “no fatties or trannies”.
Gay Pride™ is gender binary.
Gay Pride™ is on the sidewalk, obeying the police when they say the party is over.
Gay Pride™ is neglecting all of the queer and trans prisoners held captive by the State.
Gay Pride™ is marriage and military.
Gay Pride™ is poor people of color being pushed out of their neighborhoods by a white gay gentry.
Gay Pride™ is refusing to avenge religious fundamentalists who cause young queers to commit suicide.
Gay Pride™ is “things aren’t that bad in Russia.”
Gay Pride™ is being able to participate in the military-industrial complex, kill and rape people in other countries in the name of “freedom”, yet be fired from a minimum wage job in the US because of your sexuality and/or gender identity.
Gay Pride™ is giving a shit about corporate media and entertainment.
Gay Pride™ is pretending electoral politics will bring about social change.
Gay Pride™ is a rearranging of the existing social order only to accommodate a few, as opposed to collective liberation and dismantling of oppressive systems.
Gay Pride™ is nationalism.
Gay Pride™ is to water down and tranquilize - to make “normal”.
Gay Pride™ is men and women who arm themselves to kill people who are deemed criminals, deviants, and terrorists by the State.
Gay Pride™ is business casual or muscle tees.
Gay Pride™ is the invisibilization of people of color.
Gay Pride™ is to dismiss queer Palestinians being murdered by the Israeli apartheid state.
Gay Pride™ is gay men being misogynist pigs and committing verbal, physical, and sexual violence against women and it being “okay” since they’re gay.
Gay Pride™ is obscuring histories of Western colonialism and silencing Indigenous voices.
Gay Pride™ is “speak English or go back to your country”.
Gay Pride™ is a mythology and an opiate.
the emphasis on mythology and opiate is in the original work.
My initial reaction to this work must be taken in context of my experience this year with #worldpride, #TOpride2014 (or simply #pride, pick your hashtag). Unlike my friend, I didn’t miss pride— I was there not just as an attendee but as a participant on the Ryerson / OCAD University / George Brown float for the parade down Yonge Street on Sunday afternoon.
I can’t personally address all the issues mentioned in the above work by Lukas but I can describe what images and thoughts the piece brings up for me overall when contextualized by my experience with pride this year. One striking image for me from the parade crowds is a policeman who broke out dancing to the music my float blasted. I felt really shocked by it for some reason, and when I put the memory alongside this piece by Lukas, I wonder how police attitudes toward LGBT people specifically change (or are restrained) during pride week, and how they might be different (and what actions might be unrestrained) the rest of the year. Does creating a time and space for change / restraint work to justify or rationalize violent police action against LGBT people outside of this time and space?
My other primary stream of thought is YES THIS IS CORPORATE. IT IS CAPITALIST. I’m a person who is usually quite restrained with my finances when it comes to budgeting for clothing, and I usually only buy used clothing as a manageable form of boycott and protest against cheap, disposable fashion. But I spent way over my head in the fashion district this past week. After it’s all over and done, I’ve realized, “Oh shit, I just subverted all my values and my actions that resist the structures of this capitalist economy for the sake of a mint-turquoise bikini” …amongst other mermaid-themed items. That’s just my personal experience, but in my personal experience, #pride has fueled local mainstream economy, and some of those industries (the fashion/garment industry for example, or another example probably very relevant to pride might be the restaurant industry) have some really fucked up practices that disempower a lot of people all over the globe as well as all over our own backyards. I don’t believe it’s any secret that #pride is Corporate— it simply isn’t possible for a party this size to happen without Big Sponsorship and the exchange of a lot of dollars.
If #pride drives economy, the bodies that make #pride are “productive”. And productive bodies may be rewarded, accepted, even desired by mainstream culture. Is this what drives #pride? It might explain some of the grievances on Lukas’s list, for those most likely (and able) to be #proud and #productive are probably also the most privileged (like being white, male, cisgender, etc) or pass as “more acceptable” (perhaps “straight-acting” as Lukas says, for example).
(This concept of bodies becoming acceptable to a capitalist culture because they are sites for productivity is one that I have stumbled across recently while reading about fat activism, particularly fat activist & speaker Stacy Bias.)
Anyway, these are just some thoughts that popped up for me. What do you think? Is #pride a mythology and an opiate, and/or does it work for the benefit and interests of the disenfranchised?