Pride Sucks: Where’s the Riot the Queer Community Deserves?


Earlier this week, Huffington Post Gay Voices ran a blog post from a disgruntled gay guy dissatisfied with New York City Pride titled “Why I Won’t Be at Pride This Year In One Long Rant.” That “one long rant” turned out to be a numbered listicle, but it was initially encouraging to see that someone else was experiencing total limp dick surrounding a party everybody’s supposed to be amped for.

His reasoning amounted to: 1) because he wasn’t as muscled as the other boys and that made him sad, 2) because Pride hookups are disappointing, and 3) because he feels old and disconnected from the slew of pretty boys friending each other on social media.

…So we don’t quite share the same anti-Pride sentiments. What I was hoping he would say is: because Pride began in New York as a march, not a parade. A “demonstration” organizers called it in 1969, commemorating the Stonewall Riots earlier that summer, in which a crowd of 500 to 600 people materialized out of nowhere on the streets of Greenwich Village to fight back against one late-June police raid, like the ones that had been haunting The Stonewall Inn and gay bars like it for years. Raids in which anyone in drag was arrested, no matter what, and any woman not wearing at least three articles of “feminine clothing” was breaking the law.

Pride was organized by activists. It was political and subversive. And it honored real-live queer people who fought against injustice.

Pride today is a Disney ticker tape parade. It’s religiously attended by people like the 18-year-old out-and-proud kid who sublet my New York City apartment one summer and blankly asked “What’s that?” when I mentioned The Stonewall Inn.

And yeah, it also sucks because it’s noisy, and crowded, and full of drunk people, and because beautiful young members of any social group are going to be cliquey and exclusionary, leaving you to feel inadequate and unaccepted. But lots of things suck for those reasons.

This thing sucks for a specific reason and it’s because a handful of gay leaders half-a-century ago bravely encouraged their brothers and sisters towards “assimilation” for equal rights. And it worked. We endured Jack McFarland being the butt of flamer jokes and The L Word and Queer as Folk being completely offensive misrepresentations of queer culture so that straight people could feel more comfortable. That work is done. And if you don’t think that work is done, can we at least agree that that work has evolved?

The work of spreading the idea that white gay men and feminine lesbian women aren’t going to eat your children in the night is largely finished, and for proof of that, please observe the corporate marketing shitshow that Pride has become:

It’s now a place where straight politicians and business owners rent out ad space via enormous floats to gain political favor and frame themselves as “gay-friendly” establishments. Cool. I want my politicians and business owners to be gay-friendly. But is that perhaps an opinion they can tout somewhere other than in a space for queer remembrance and celebration? And can we please stop slapping a rainbow on everything and calling it equality? Newsflash: gay marriage becoming legal in all 50 states is not equality. Maybe you can come march with us when you also pass laws in all 50 states that prevent people from being discriminated against, fired, or kicked out of housing based on their sexuality and their gender identity. Or when hate crime laws apply to gender and sexuality discrimination on a state level, too.

Can we now do the work of embracing members of the queer community beyond white gay men who want to marry each other and serve in the military in peace? They already got their cake. Can we move on to celebrating and fighting for the rest of it?

When I first moved to New York, Dyke March was an officially sanctioned NYC Pride event, which showed up right alongside the march and the river pier dance party on the .org’s list of events. It’s since been scrubbed from the site, and moved off into its own corner of the internet. According to their mission statement:

The Dyke March is a protest march, not a parade — we don’t ask for a permit, because we have the right to protest. We recognize that we must organize amongst ourselves to fight for our rights, our safety, and for visibility. Thousands of dykes take over the streets every year in celebration of LBTQ women and to protest against ongoing discrimination, harassment, and anti-LBTQ violence in schools, on the job, in our families, and on the streets.

This feels way more in line with the original spirit of Pride, and yet, it’s nowhere to be found on the official site. Obviously, we have to shield the children from the big scary dykes, but wait a minute, weren’t you just throwing rainbow beads off your float at the main event to show how LGBTQ-friendly you were? You know that applies to people other than clean-cut gay businessmen perfectly happy to conform to your system, correct?

There’s another anti- “Pride Riot” party in New York tonight sponsored by The Culture Whore, and it’s mission statement reads, in part:

“we’re NOT *NORMAL*
we’re NOT SATISFIED with what *THEY* want us to be

we, the radical queers of Brooklyn and beyond
dismiss the idea that gay pride is a celebration of mindless consumption
and the forced sanitization and normalization of our inherent *otherness*

we propose a return to the spirit with which gay pride began
a riot against the homogenous forces that threaten our existence
a parade of fabulousness that makes the city sparkle with ecstatic light
an honoring of our fallen ancestors and the pain we all bear
a celebration of our chosen family and the bliss we share
and most importantly a dream
a dream of queer love, community, comfort and joy”

Maybe that 50-year-old un-muscled dude can hit up this party. But honestly, it doesn’t really sound like his scene.

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