Why I’m Kind of Over “Pride Day”

For one thing I remember when “Pride Day” commemorated the Stonewall Uprising.

Back in those days it was political.

I didn’t go to the Christopher Street West Gay Liberation Marches until 1974.  The prior years I was dealing with more pressing issues including surgery dates.

I went to my first Christopher Street West March and Rally in Hollywood, 1974.

It wasn’t a huge event. But there were a lot of TS/TG women there, Hollywood was our turf, home to the few bars and restaurants that would serve us.

A couple of bars had floats, as did a couple of bath houses.  MCC was represented and the Christo-Fascists stood off to the side at the corner of Hollywood and Vine with their signs of condemnation and hell fire.

The Parade/March started at Hollywood and Argyle and made its way west to Las Palmas.  There it turned south down Las Palmas, past the Gold Cup and the Church on Selma Avenue where the male hustlers displayed their merchandise.

The rally was held in De Longpre Park, south of Sunset Blvd and had speakers, not well known celebrity entertainers.

Morris Kight and Jim Kepner introduced the speakers.  To their credit they remembered me from conferences.

The Founders of the Modern Gay Liberation Movement made an effort to reach out, recognize the diversity of a community that was already fragmenting into various identities.

I was there to enjoy the day and photograph the event.  I didn’t have a prepared speech, but I got up and spoke anyway.

I spoke about how beautiful it was to see gay men, lesbians transsexuals and queens all together on this one day and how sad it was that the rest of the year we lived in our own ghettos with others excluded from our bars.

By 1976 the festival had started featuring entertainment as well as speeches. Booths selling beer, food and trinkets now occupied the park which had been the site of a political rally just two years prior.

By the 1980s  the connection to the Stonewall uprising had become tenuous at best.  The AIDS crisis dominated the LGBT scene as did the militant politics of Larry Kramer and ACT-UP.

Then in the 1990s as the AIDS crisis lessened it seemed as though LGBT people became a demographic to the point where community isn’t defined by relationships, affection or love, nor even by politics, but rather by patterns of consumption.

I’m a product of the 1960s, an unrepentant hippie anti-establishment sort. Many years ago marriage was the last thing on my mind, but old age and awareness of my own mortality as well as that of my life partner have made the legal ties and rights purchased with marriage into something desirable. But the marriage parasites shouldn’t start salivating over the thought of getting a bunch of money from us when we marry. We already had the ceremony performed by our peers a year and a half ago.  We just want the paper and the rights. I sure don’t need an expensive dress or ceremony.

Once upon a time being LGBT was like being a hippie in many ways.  Our lives served as an example of an alternative to the consumerist, the patriarchal institutions of the straights.

With our lives we questioned their assumptions.

Now it seems as though we want to be just like them.

Join the military, wage imperialistic wars of conquest to fatten the wallets of the rich.

Get the useless education in being an efficient corporate tool, destroying the planet and walking on the backs of the working class so you too can afford to attend the MWMF/Dinah Shore/Black Party/White Party with a winter share in Aspen  and a summer share in the Hamptons.

There are a lot of pissed off TS/TG folks who feel forgotten.  Too queer to be a part of the A-List LGBT club.  From the floors of the Big Box Stores to the street corners and squats they still see the personal as the political.

Maybe it is time for working class folks, both White and People of Color who are LGBT to realize many of our issues are class related and not simply LGBT related.

I held my tongue over all the Gays in the Military hoopla.  Because there are LGBT people who are in the military and who need the benefits they earned.  But somehow serving as part of the imperialistic corporate war machine always seemed like a pretty dubious right.

Particularly given the history of the US and its support of brutal dictatorships along with the over throwing of elected democratic governments.

I have to ask, “Who all are you protecting, the people of the US or the profits of the ultra rich corporate overlords?”

This brings me to the latest act of craven cowardliness on the part of the A-List LGBT folks who run the movement:  Bradley Manning is off limits at SF Gay Pride parade, but corporate sleaze is embraced

It seems that some of the A-list corporate suck-ups were afraid of the controversy surrounding Bradley Manning.  Perhaps they were afraid people might be reminded of the gentle, angry, loving people who marched in the 1960s and 1970s when standing for something was more important than buying the next expensive toy, the next exotic and exclusive gay/lesbian cruise.

Maybe as an old post-transsexual lesbian and left wing hippie I hold the A-List LGBT folks values in contempt.

Maybe I have more in common with the LGBT folks who go to the same concerts at the same funky venues as old straights with hippie roots.

Funny thing is I still feel pretty damned comfortable at demonstration where folks are holding Teachers, Nurses, Communication Workers and Teamster Union signs protesting cuts to Social Security and the war against working people.

More comfortable than at LGBT events featuring A-List members of LGBT Inc.

Speaking of which…  While a lot of gay men died during the AIDS crisis of the 1980s and early 1990s a lot of lesbians didn’t and a lot of us working class LGBT folks are facing pretty desolate lives of loneliness and poverty as we age.  Social Security is another inconvenient issue.

From where I stand the suits of Gay Inc or perhaps more accurately LGBT Inc seem pretty much isolated from the depredations of poverty.

But I can pretty much guarantee you this issue will not be raised at the Corporate Sponsored Pride Day Celebrations across the nation.  Mustn’t let corporate selling opportunities be tainted with politics or anything that would cause LGBT consumer to think they are living in a dystopia instead of a virtual paradise.

Maybe it is time for a counter-cultural LGBT revolution, one that throws off the chains of identity politics and forges bonds based on common cause with workers, older people, environmentalists, the lumpen folks who are homeless or working the street, the anti-war folks.

Perhaps we need to reclaim the concept of liberation.  Freedom isn’t choosing between the latest iPhone and the latest Samsung Galaxy.  Freedom is about having equality and dignity.  Not having to go to bed hungry, having a roof over your head, not having to do sex work.

Maybe we need a New Deal 2.0

I’m pretty sure we don’t need a whole lot of what the corporate sponsors of LGBT Inc are selling.

Free Bradley Manning

Free Leonard Peltier

Free Lynn Stewart

Free Cece McDonald

Free Mumia Abu-Jamal

9 Responses to “Why I’m Kind of Over “Pride Day””

  1. autumn.sandeen@cox.net Says:

    I’m looking today at NBA player Jason Collins coming out as gay today — being the first player of the United States’ four big sports league to do so — and he attributes his coming out in part to wanting to march in Boston’s Gay Pride Parade with his college roommate Joe Kennedy.

    So a pride parade has been a catalyst for him coming out.

    And althoug Collins is black, he’s talented enough at basketball to make a living at playing the game, and therefore pretty obviously wealthy. Which goes to your point about Pride parades to not be about the poor, radical, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transsexual activists who were the people behind organizations like the Gay Liberation Front and Act-Up.

    Pride celebrations have moved a long way from their roots of celebrating the achievenmets that came out of the Stonewall riots and uprising.

    • Suzan Says:

      The early Gay Pride Marches were less about celebrating and more about making a political show of numbers and power. Not the number of people available for corporations to push their crap upon, but the number of people who could vote and who demanded rights.

      I remember a point in the 90s when the March was organized around marriage equality.

      Well now the LGBT baristas and big box store workers are being so economically squeezed they can’t afford the luxuries of the LGBT communities much less the luxuries enjoyed by our leaders who are firmly ensconced in professional positions in the bosom of LGBT Inc.

      I’m one of those pioneers. I’ve been an activist for some 50 years. I’ve stood up for civil rights, been anti-war and pro-environment. I was born in a union family, New Deal Democrats. I’m working class and I have seen what happens to the poverty and lower working classes in this Brave New World Order. It seems like a lot of the LGBT “Leaders” have forgotten the poor and dispossessed.
      Seems like a lot of people have forgotten their roots in the anti-red/anti-queer witch hunts of the 1950s, in the anti-war and civil rights movement of the 1960s.

      So it is more important to stick a corporate approved celebrity in the position of Parade Grand Marshall instead of this generation’s Daniel Ellsberg.

      Maybe it is time for LGBT people to start using these gatherings for political purposes again instead of opportunities for the corporations to sell us booze, trinkets and crappy food along with Divas and celebrities.

  2. Debbie Brady (@DebbieBrady2) Says:

    I agree Susan, I may be an old LBGT lady living on the income from My Social Security Retirement fund which I spent 45 years paying into, but in my heart I am still the rebel who took over the Betsy Ross house with the Vietnam Veterans against the war in February 1971. I spent 38 years hiding out in the Mountains of Colorado, but now I’m back, I’m pissed off and I have a lot of time on my hands.
    I have become a part of a half a dozen progressive activist groups and I pass my self coming and going to meetings, rallies and marches. I like and respect my rebel friends more than I do my trans friends.
    Next Month, May 20 I am traveling to DC, I haven’t been there since I threw eggs at Nixon in 1972, with a group of people who have lost their homes to foreclosure, myself included. We intend to camp on the lawn of the Justice Department and demand that Eric Holder prosecute the bankesters who caused the housing crash. Our intention is to get arrested. I can’t wait to find how the DC police treat Transsexual women inmates. Wish us luck.
    O I haven’t been to a Denver pride event in years due to a personal feud with the Denver LGBT Center who sponsors the event.
    Debbie Brady

  3. Beth Elliott Says:

    Ironically, we made ourselves so visible that it became no big deal to be in a Pride parade. That was a success … but it paved the way for the big shows we have today. In San Francisco, Pride and Chinese New Year’s are the two biggest annual events in the City. They’re both tourist attractions, both televised locally.

    My first parade was, also ironically, Los Angeles rather that San Francisco. 1971, down Hollywood Boulevard, to De Longpre Park. I’d left home, suddenly and under a cloud, only five days previously, and was on my way to LA for the first Gay Women’s West Coast Conference. By the next one, we’d claimed the word Lesbian. There’s a picture of me with my “Revolution – It’s Just a Kiss Away” sign in Marcia Gallo’s “Different Daughters.” That was totally of the era, politics and counterculture music.

    Myself, I’m kind of backing away from the Bradley Manning marshal controversy entirely. I think trying to get him named marshal is radical only, not radical and gay or gay radical. It reminds me too much of the early 1970s thing of, well, gay rights are important, but we’ve got to win the revolution first so don’t bring them up till we say you can. It doesn’t subvert any dominant paradigm.

    • Suzan Says:

      Except Bradley Manning is gay, perhaps even trans. One of the first people he reached out to was Zinnia Jones, a sister who is well know in the atheist world.

      I’m finding I no longer much fit in the lesbian or gay community but back in a world where LGBT people are concerned about other issues as well including the anti-war movement, environmental movement etc.

      I think Pride Day events are parties now, nothing more. Just like Halloween. Places to go and buy crap from corporations.

      • Suzan Says:

        BTW in 1971 Jerry and I were frantically trying to get things back together after the FBI busted him for desertion and I helped him escape Oak Knoll Naval Hospital Psych Ward. The next two years I had surgery dates that conflicted.

        In 1974 I was in serious photographer mode.

  4. Sarah Says:

    I’ve noticed that whenever post-trans issues come up in an LGBT forum, there’s always a few gay men who display as much hostility as Cis people do. It seems that now they’re accepted and just another part of society (at least here in the UK) they feel entitled to be just as prejudiced against post-trans people as anyone else. I’ve been told variously by gay men that I’m whining, shrill, bullying or a victim, and all because I call out privilege or bigotry whenever I see it.

    • Suzan Says:

      Gay men are first of all men and not having a real interest in getting women in bed frees them to let their misogyny run rampant. That plus they have a worse case of fear of being feminine than even straight men who look at having any feminine traits or likes as icky.

      This is part of the indoctrination of gender that TS/TG folks really failed and the one that got us abused for most of our lives.

      In reality men and women are more alike than different with a sizable portion of over lapping of characteristics and interests.

      But many gay men are afraided of being seen as feminine as there is a high level of discrimination in the gay community directed at femmey gay men.

  5. Why I’m Kind of Over “Pride Day” | The Transadvocate Says:

    […] Cross-posted from Women Born Transsexual× […]

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