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Friday, June 9, 2017

Pride Month Challenge - Day 9

This post is part of a series originally called "30 Day LGBT Challenge" which asks queer-related questions to be answered during Pride Month.  The original questions can be found here.

Day 9:  What do you think about LGBT Queer Pride? Is it helpful or hurtful? Encouraged or unnecessary?

First of all I'll mention that this list started switching up all references to "LGBT" instead of "gay" despite most of the questions being directed specifically regarding sexual orientation rather than gender identity.  I associate "LGBT" with the most mainstream of the mainstream rights (not liberation) activists and rarely use it unless I'm referring to such.  So I'm editing it to "queer" to talk about my own experiences.  I also am going to talk about Pride the celebration rather than pride the thing.  They're related, but I wasn't sure which was being referred to in the original question.

Pride is absolutely necessary and anybody who thinks otherwise is either:
  1. Closeted...
  2. ...privileged enough to think their gender identity or sexual orientation is not a liability, or...
  3. ...an assimilationist.
Assimilationists believe that queer people should behave just like straight people but while sleeping with different people.  They abhor things that make us look less respectable to heteros, things like nonmonogamy, drag, leather fashion, comfort with nudity and sexuality, and gender bending.  This itself is born out of privilege... if you don't need these things, if you can tolerate being a married monogamous vanilla cis gay, if you weren't inducted into the queer community surrounded by drag queens or leather daddies or some other "alternative" subcommunity, it can be easy to throw those of us who cannot or haven't lived that life under the bus trying to get Paul Ryan to like you.

(Note:  You can be a married monogamous vanilla cis gay and not an assimilationist, of course!)

The problem is that people who want to deny us our rights and liberation are going to try doing that even if we are married monogamous vanilla cis gays.  It's a total red herring, and yet time and time again you get these assimilationists coming forth saying we need to drop trans people so the heteros like us, we need to pretend polyamory doesn't exist so the heteros like us, and so on and so forth.  This is repulsive.

I do, by the way, have a love-hate relationship with Pride.  Pride is on the anniversary month of Stonewall, a literal riot against police by queer and trans people of color, but the celebrations themselves devolved into a gaping maw of capitalist exploitation, with white cis gays whining about things like how they totally want cops to march in their parades (uniformed cops at these events makes them unsafe for a large portion of queer people), being super drunk and disrespectful, and I've been sexually harassed more than once at them.  The Pridefest I go to in Milwaukee is also loaded with people who want to exclude transgender people, especially in bathrooms, leading to an incident a couple years ago with some ignorant-as-fuck security guards policing what bathrooms they could use (this was against Pridefest policy but they'd never bothered to actually publicize their policy).

So why do I still go and support it?  Because we need that visibility for people who haven't experienced it before.  When you've grown up in some bullshit insular situation with zero other queer people, or few other queer people, or where cishets are constantly policing you, going to a place where there are lots and lots of people like you, being proud and waving flags and singing and dancing, that's a magical, almost religious experience.

Currently I live in an all-queer household (we rarely even have cishet guests outside of blood relatives).  I don't necessarily imminently need Pride, because most of my day is spent in a very supportive environment where being queer is just normal and everyday shit.  But I do still enjoy attending--in spite of my problems with it--because I like seeing the joy on the faces of the new queers who haven't experienced that before, in addition to the number of old friends I see whenever I go to an event like that.