Pride is Meaningless
June 29, 2014: Hundreds of thousands of people herd behind barricades on either side of the Lavender Line, screaming and waving and reeking of sunscreen and hypocrisy. I marched with a forlorn smile and an edgy sign hoisted high above my head. Fifth Avenue was littered with rubbish: broken strings of beads more appropriate for Mardi Gras than for a Liberation March, sealed condoms slowly melting in the direct light of the sun, certain to spread an STI or cause a pregnancy later that night, coupons for “gay” burritos, equal signs, pieces of paper that promise hope with fingers always crossed behind closed doors.
This year is the 45th anniversary of Stonewall. In those forty-five years, we’ve allowed ourselves to become complacent, to be spoon fed deceits to make us believe that we’re living in some kind of fantastical post-gay-rights world. Marriage equality is inevitable, that means it’s all over, right? Wrong. The most disgusting, most insidious part of this charade is that we can’t even point at the conservative straight people we could blame twenty years ago. Most of them still want nothing to do with us. No, it’s the faggots, the rich, white, corporate-type faggots who love to smoke crack and get fucked after dark, only to be the most closeted, homophobic person at their desk job. Faggots are the enemy. Faggots are worse than the straight people who compare being gay to engaging in bestiality. Faggots would have the heteronormative world believe that all gay people are just confused straight people, accidentally falling in love with someone with the same genitalia, but really desiring to live a life exactly as the so-called American dream families have since the end of the second World War. They just want to be good parents, live in a nice house in the suburbs with two kids and a dog and a white picket fence. They’d never be caught dead with activists, or Poz people, or drag queens. Those people are freaks.
Pride has been perverted into some kind of gay Christmas, with corporate sponsors up to the eyeballs. The faggots allow for Pride every year as a way to soothe members of the LGBTQ community, to making them forget that the struggles they face on every other day of the year are real. “It gets better,” they say before joining the throng of spectators pointing and laughing at the gays on parade. All we want to do is get married and be just like everybody else, right? Wrong.
The Supreme Court has ruled the corporations are people, and if that’s true, they must feel really fucking guilty. Corporate sponsors known for discriminating against the LGBTQ community bring their floats to Pride, ignorant of what that march means. They hand out freebies and coupons, hoping to cash on the wealth amassed by the large subset of people they haven’t been exploiting all this time. What do they do to help the community the other 364 days of the year? Jack shit. They feel guilty for not treating the LGBTQ community with the respect it deserves as well as desiring, above all else, to turn a profit like a gaggle of self-absorbed Ferengis.
The first march for Pride took place one year after the Stonewall Riots. It was a march, a solemn remembrance for all those who were routinely killed and injured and imprisoned by blatantly homophobic policies and people throughout New York City. The coordinators of the march, Heritage of Pride, still insist during each of their group leader orientation meetings that Pride is in fact, a march, and not a parade. This distinction is very important. A March is solemn, a form of grand protest against the status quo and the powers that be. A parade is a celebration for victories past. Pride will become a parade when every member of the LGBTQ community has all the rights afforded to our straight counterparts. We’re not even close. Regardless of how Heritage of Pride refers to the march amongst themselves and the group leaders, they do a shit job at correcting the media. Ninety-eight percent of people who know what Pride is refer to it as a march. The fewer times Heritage of Pride corrects the reporting, the more complacent we collectively grow.
We are willfully ignorant of our pasts and therefore our futures are doomed. We parade down Fifth Avenue in attire that was once a symbol of defiance, of an unbridled sexuality that would not be tamed by a straight master. Now, they are remnants of a revolution only half-fought, a costume of triviality, of otherness, reinforcing the stereotypes of what gay sex means. Straight people gather in troves to see us, laughing and clapping and hoping deep down that we will make some sort of sexual advance. We are a conspicuous taboo; it thrills them. They reach for us like asses at the petting zoo.
Pride is horrible at reinforcing misleading stereotypes about the LGBT community that place us in grave danger. Many of my brothers and sisters in the March enjoy interacting with the crowd. This is a lovely thing, slashing down the barriers of Us v. Them. Getting up close and personal, giving people hugs and high-fives makes it at least nominally harder for them to wage all out war against us. However, when we allow ourselves to be the object of heterosexual gaze, we demean ourselves. We allow for our own physical boundaries to be disrespected. The hands of straight people touch us, not out of love but out of a sick fascination. If we allow them to touch us without our consent at a function that is wholly ours, what is to prevent them from non-consensual whenever they want? What is to prevent them from sexually assaulting or beating or killing us? Nothing. Nobody wants to cause a scene, but we cannot allow ourselves to ignore affronts to our bodies from anyone, ever. Not even at Pride. They also love to see us together, kissing, touching, dancing, fucking. They are fascinated and envious of our sexual liberation, but their envy often manifests as prejudice against us. They see us entwined on Fifth Avenue, they label us diseased, nymphomaniacs, unfaithful. We must combat this.
The cornerstones of the fallacy of Pride as a celebration of the victories we’ve won against the monster of homophobia are organizations that regularly and knowingly distort our message and know nothing of queerdom. We seek equality and the freedom to live our lives without anyone’s permission. We do not seek assimilation. Assimilation is silence. We seek to be able to express our souls in whatever way we choose. To fuck with no regard to what the effect may be upon the proverbial children. To fuck and live and breathe and exist outside of any arbitrary construction. We seek the freedom to walk the streets of our cities without fear of violence and rage because we are different.
Pride is important and should be a continuing force in our world until the bigotry is gone and there is true equality for all, but we must hold true to the original purpose of Pride. We must remember that marriage is a small piece of what it means to be equal. We must remember that many straight people are not our friends. We must remember that there is a long war that must be fought. We march in solemnity until then. We have won our fair share of battles, but as of now, we’re losing this war.
We’re losing because we are tired. We are tired of organizations run by people with more internalized homophobia than members of the Westboro Baptist Church presuming to speak for us. We are tired of executive directors of non-profits taking home half-million dollar salaries while doing as little as they possibly can to appease the community that’s making them rich. We are tired of privileged white, upper class, gay men telling us and our youth that “it gets better,” as if somehow, magically, the world won’t hate us when we’re older. We’re tired of everyone ignoring the other eight letters of the LGBT acronym in favor of the “palatable” gays who behave themselves.
We will not behave ourselves. We are bisexual, queer, transgender, affected by the beast of HIV. The Riots at Stonewall were not executed by prim and proper little gay boys. It was the dykes and the drag queens and people of color. Why, then are we letting the faggots who seek nothing more than to be straight homosexuals speak for us? We are the deviants, we are the genderbenders, we believe our bodies and our choices should be dictated by no external forces, gay, straight, or otherwise. We are the children of a half-baked revolution, and it’s our job to carry it out. Get political. Assimilation is silence. Silence is death.