The Gay Case Against Pride
Pride is over. Maybe that's for the best.
Pride month just grows more and more miserable. Everyone from the CIA to Amazon joins in to get a piece of the action. I could not wait for it end sooner. I hope it doesn’t come back.
Critical discourse over Pride month and parades is not uncommon. Usually these revolve around what Pride has been, what it should be, why it’s defensible in its current form, why it’s not, why we should “take it back” (which I admit, I am most sympathetic to). Most of these don’t adequately consider the idea of ending it entirely.
What we want Pride to be ideally (with or without kink) does not change what it functionally and fundamentally is. It’s not just that Pride doesn’t belong to us so it doesn’t reflect us, Pride isn’t even about us. We live in a world where profits are put before people everyday, to put it simply. The millions of dollars in rainbow clad advertisement and bloated local Pride committees forms the essence of what Pride is, that's not a decision that depends on what most of us think. They will parade to none of us if they have to.
For me, what something does and how it operates is way more meaningful than the rhetoric surrounding it or the ideals it represents or symbolizes. You can paint a train with rainbows, or conversely kick off all the gay passengers (perhaps not mutually exclusive), but try to stop it in its tracks and you’ll find a train is still a train. The train has taken off and is not stopping for anything but its destination.
Pride celebrates tolerance and inclusion, and is often a way for straight people (or their enterprise) to celebrate how “not homophobic” they are. We join in chorus with this because it’s inauthentic validation, and politically we have no lens for that. We are people who are driven by shame and self-loathing, who are conditioned to drown ourselves in anything that, even for a minute, calms the frantic “little boys with big secrets” within us. Gay shame is not a controversial phenomenon to talk about, but whenever I consider the idea that this affects our collective, political psyche, I somehow get raised eyebrows. Something about this is very difficult for us to accept, I know it was for me on a personal level, I went kicking and screaming and fought acknowledging the power gay shame held over me when I was faced with the idea.
However, an authentic validation of who we are, politics which genuinely make the world a better place for us, for everyone, are no where to be found this Pride. Last summer’s uprising, for me, was the closest to this I’ve ever felt, a burning police precinct is more authentic than a thousand corporations changing their profile pics.
The state of gay politics makes it easy for us to be pessimistic, so I don’t blame anyone for coming to that conclusion. I am more iconoclastic than most, but I care little if people join in step with my anger against Pride. There's little we can to stop the plastic statements and McDonaldization of Pride if that's not on the table for the broader thrust of gay politics.
I want to stop being reminded I'm valid all of the time. At one point in my youth, this satisfied me, but it's something all too comfortable. Straight people know, consciously or not, that this inauthentic validation is powerful propaganda. I don't need it anymore, what I need is my HIV/PrEP treatment to be free and available on demand, for the state to stop Rainbow-washing Israel, to stop involuntary queer youth houselessness. I see no possibility for these things without returning to the anger and power we once harnessed and nurtured. Until we become the people with these demands again, who rioted in New York City in 1969 and burned down San Franscisco in 1979, I have little left to be proud of.