Pride is historical celebration of the LGBTQ+ community, and is for LGBTQ+ people and LGBTQ+ people only. Let me make that more clear: Pride is for people who aren’t straight or cis and only for people that aren’t straight or cis.
The history of Pride is too often ignored. Don’t forget that before your straight ass showed up, Pride was originally an anti-police protest started by transwomen of color. Stonewall, anyone? Police constantly ignore the needs of our community and in fact, make our communities less safe. Police are less likely to take reports of intimate partner violence seriously between non-straight partners and there’s little to no legislature to keep us safe because while our same-“sex” partnerships are recognized as legal, there’s not much more than a piece of paper for us. Additionally, trans women of color are at the highest risk of violence from police, street harassers and other forms of structural and personal violence.
Marsha P. Johnson, a black trans sex worker was an original organizer and activist during the Stonewall Riots and I can promise you, she wasn’t throwing bricks at police for your straight ass to have a fun gay time at a commercial parade.
Police presence at Pride is inherently inappropriate. Police don’t keep us safe. Police raid our spaces, force us to disband our communities and keep us from being visible. Police protect property, not people.
So this riot-turned-parade, right? Parades are the socially and legally acceptable form of representation and street protest. So of course, it’s been commodified. Pinkwashed as hell.
Capitalism loves equality, as long as it means we’re all buying products. Our liberation is being marketed to us and straight folks are buying it as a means to be “supportive.” Instead of buying that ugly ass sweatshirt from Abercrombie or Target, donate $20 to LGBTQ youth. Current Pride festivals pinkwash LGBTQ+ liberation by commodifying and depoliticizing our existence. Pride makes queerness consumer-friendly and easy to swallow.
I’m amazed by the number of “allies” I see RSVPing to Pride events. That’s cool, or whatever, but know that we don’t need your allyship. Queerness isn’t your spectator sport, we’re not here to get looked at.
If you’re straight, think twice about the context in which you’re attending Pride. And then think twice again. I’d also add that if you’re planning on attending Pride in a group of only straight people, for the love of god, don’t go.
This goes for straight folks who show up for the party scene, too. If you’re straight and headed to a gay bar with all of your ally friends because it’s “just so wild and crazy,” chill the hell out and walk your asses back to your usual haunts. Allies need to stop invading queer spaces under the guise of “inclusion” and friendliness. Instead of showing up when you’re neither wanted nor needed, show up when our siblings are being murdered, bullied to the point of suicide or homeless. Your performative allyship is showing. Glad you’re having a great time waving your rainbow flag, though…at least stay out of the way.
Thank you all for your wonderful comments! Tri, Sunita and Nate, I’d suggest seeking out local spaces in your communities that cater to the LGBTQ+ community. Consider avoiding large non-profits such as NoH8, but others, like the Trevor Project do great work. Just make sure you’re doing your research and agree with all of the platforms of the non-profits. If you don’t want to donate to a charity, you can donate directly to LGBTQ+ folks when they post gofundme links, etc. Many of these are floating around Tumblr, Twitter and Facebook.
As far as learning goes, take some time to read and explore the histories of notable trans people (especially trans women) and lesbians (especially trans lesbians!). Some great folks to read about are Sylvia Rivera, Marsha P. Johnson and Audre Lorde. Audre Lorde is one of my favorite writers!
Thanks, Jessica! I do want to assert that not everyone in the LGBTQ+ community has the same opinion on straight people at Pride as I do– I’m just one queer voice and by no means speak for everyone in the community.
I am grateful for this perspective and appreciate you sharing your knowledge on the history of the Pride movement. You make some great points like the “guise of inclusion” and the capitalist takeover of Pride that make this personal and relatable. I would like recommendations on orgs that I can donate to tho, I found that to be the most powerful point in the article for me but then didn’t have anything to follow up on.
Thanks for sharing your story and educating those of us that are naive 🙂
Even as someone who is a part of the LGBTQ community, I don’t feel like my sexuality experiences struggle the same way other sexualities so publicly do. Because of this I don’t attend pride, and as Jessica mentioned, people are shocked at that. Pride has become such a party scene, where straight allies can flaunt their ally status. But like you mentioned in the article, where are they in the LGBTQ communities times of need?
Love this article!
I really appreciate hearing this perspective. I keep getting asked if I’m going to such and such Pride event, and people seem shocked when I say no. I aspire to be an ally, and I do my best to show up the way I feel is best. This just doesn’t feel like my space, and it’s validating to hear that it doesn’t make me a bad ally if I’m not showing up to every fun gay party this month.
What are some trustworthy organizations doing good work in LGBTQ communities you would say have the literature and resources that can help me self-educate my straight ass? I personally can’t tell for the life of me if there’s any informed action I can take that isn’t just “stay out of the way and do nothing”.
Though if that’s what it takes to deliver justice in this space, I’ll do my best to do just that.