For those who’ve been out and proud, current efforts around June have felt either redundant or problematic. It’s high time we reclaim this month for what it should be. This year, it finally happened. I’ve finally become one of those gays who now go, “Oh, it’s Pride month.”
Being out and proud for half of my life, I’ve begun to feel the same way about June as I do now every February during Black History Month.
Here come to the over-the-top performative gestures from corporations who now claim allyship when they barely exhibit such any other time of the year—and who, as the writer Judd Legum revealed Monday, fund anti-LGBTQ candidates to the tune of thousands of dollars. Here come the themed panel discussions, branded merchandise, and cringy history fun facts on social media pages.
Here come privileged folks making it about them while celebrating us. Honestly, Pride Month has now become more of a “Cis-Het Presents: LGBTQIA Appreciation Month” than one focused the community itself. This June has been nothing different as cisgender heterosexuals and their corporations continue to do the most (and the very least) to convey solidarity. Skittles have decided to remove the rainbow (corny, yet funny) from its candies this month to show that it truly belongs to the LGBTQIA community.
Vice President Kamala Harris makes headlines for being the first sitting VP to attend a Pride Parade (while still dodging questions on when she will go to the border and see our undocumented queer Latinx siblings). The New York Times thought it would be a good idea to go against Black and brown LGBTQIA members by publishing an editorial in favor of cops being at Pride parades (seriously, who asked them?). There’s been excessive debates and coverage on whether or not the leather community is a part of Pride (who really cares), outrage over Pride cookies in Texas (no surprise) and more coming out celebrity news (welcome, David Archuleta).
All of this has gotten redundant and problematic rather quickly. Pride Month has begun to feel like a performative hot mess—one that feels like a big messy party with cheap vodka, rainbows, and annoying straight people telling me “love is love” every 30 seconds.
I thought once I got older things would change, that rainbow capitalism and institutional tone-deafness was only marketed towards younger millennials and Gen-Zers—but it’s become apparent this is just how America has decided to frame Pride Month altogether.
I knew Pride Month had lost its way when I had to explain to cis-het people trying to host a solidarity event why police weren’t on the top of the community’s list of guests wanted. Newsflash: Stonewall was a riot against longstanding police brutality, as well as an act of rebellion against mobsters that owned the historic gay bar and others in the area.
The Mob partook in the discrimination of LGBTQIA patrons of the Stonewall Inn, along with allowing the police to routinely harass, target, and attack them as a way to cover up their organized crime. Police injustice and the mob's exploitation of the community collided during those intense nights of June 1969: enough was enough.
Pennies and bricks weren’t thrown by Black and brown transgender activists such as Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera for fun—it was intended to fight back against institutions that had terrorized their very existence. These uprisings birthed a contemporary movement that would later inspire what became Pride Month.
Today, the month looks and feels nothing like the movement that created it. That needs to change immediately.
The current Pride parade we once held up in high regard has now become a corporate machine that’s slapped a rainbow on its ass to act like it’s for the community. Sure, there’s been charitable deeds done and more visibility, but the pinkwashing of corporate banks and federal institutions that haven’t historically done right by the LGBTQIA community is astounding. Centering of cis-het entertainers, activists, and creators to flex their “allyship” has gotten out of hand. And still debating over the role of police at Pride parades over 50 years since Stonewall is devastating.
Pride needs to return back to its original roots: One that was LGBTQIA community-focused and equitable. For starters, the most marginalized were at the forefront of the movement, and should be centered today. Black and brown transgender people should be key organizers of the parade given the history they continue to display before, during, and Stonewall.
Knowing what we know of racial disparities and economic inequities in our community, the parades should be free to the public—no question. If corporations and other institutions who’ve been historically oppressive to us want to pay reparations, let them. But charging our community money for an event that we inspired is tacky. Let us celebrate on our oppressor’s dime.
Recently, there’s been a tired and lazy re-centering of the LGBTQIA movement as being focused heavily on love and marriage equality. Seeing VP Harris wear that “love is love” T-shirt as she attended the D.C. Pride parade this month made me sigh hard. Stonewall wasn’t a protest on same-sex marriage, but one about equal protections against oppressive forces, such as the police. The Equality Act continues to be in limbo in the Senate.
LGBTQIA Americans may be able to be married, but there are still no overarching federal protections that ensure our equality across the board. Why are we getting drunk and celebrating as if the fight isn’t still over? Pride parades should be protests against our current state and federal institutions that continue to drag their feet on our right to be legally treated as first-class citizens. Anything else would simply be acknowledging this movement in vain.
Following the racial uprisings of last summer, eliminating the role of police at Pride parades or any marginalized group gatherings should come as no question. History has continued to confirm what many of us should already know: The police are no friend to us. Just like there are LGBTQIA Trump supporters, there are LGBTQIA cops. But such contradictions don’t erase or deny the history and the necessary exclusion both groups should have within our current movement. You can’t be with the people if you’re institutionally oppressing the people. Our movement leaders understood that in 1969. We need to keep that same energy today.
Until we have a Pride month that is more woke, inclusive, and equitable I will continue to attend a few drag brunches, community roundtables, and call it a day. We deserve better because our history demanded such. It’s time to listen to our ancestors.