Everyone fucks up. It is the result of being human beings. Pride this year has presented one million more ways for us to screw up and make people mad. We have mined our own fields. So, lets talk about that.
What Was Pride?
Pride was originally created as a protest to being forced to hide who we are. For generations, we hid in closets and never let people in the general public know we were gay. There was good reason for this: we could (and still can) lose jobs, our physical safety is at stake, we can lose family and friends.
Early Pride participants came out at risk to themselves to announce we were here and would not be shamed to going back into the closet. When I was 16, I attended an event in San Jose, CA where the keynote joked that the last Pride was her and eight other queers in Chicago who marched around the block with a pride flag and then retired to a nice brunch.
Pride has grown since then. It has also been commodified and turned into a spectator sport by some heteros. This is annoying at best and overall deeply problematic. Businesses vie for queer dollars without necessarily working to change policies to make the world a safer place for us. Heteros can treat us like an entertainment spectacle and not like humans fighting for basic rights.
Pride has also began to expend to include more groups. We went from gay, to Gay and Lesbian, to LGB, to LGBT… .and now I believe we are up to LGBTQQAAI (can we please just go for Q! [Q factorial]). However, as these groups have been added in the acronym we aren’t always equally welcome. Bi couples that are also dual-gender are seen as heteros and sometimes treated badly. Trans folks are excluded or marginalized. POC are not always included equally.
So now, Pride organizations across the country are trying really hard to make sure all groups are included and honored. It is a huge job. And, as an organizer, I will attest, largely impossible to do without pissing off some group.
It has come down to issues of small parts of our community feeling left out, then calling for a celebration to be boycotted because they are angry.
I don’t think this is the solution. As with a fuck up in a kink scene, it is how you handle your mistake that makes the difference.
Pride is important. We are a long way from having basic rights as queers. Our rights to work, to get our partner’s benefits, to adopt, to get health care and more are either non-existent or currently under attack. This is still a political movement, even though so many forget that among the glitter and rainbows.
So, if you are an organizer and you are made aware of some group being offended. be thoughtful and genuine in your response. A heartfelt, “I’m sorry. How can we do better?” is appropriate. And it is critical that is followed with trying to do better.
It is also important to remember when you are the group transgressed against, it may genuinely have been an accident. Not everyone is up on the latest etiquette around gender and sexual orientation. You may truly read as hetero when you are bi (I know I sometimes do). Gently address the issue and move on. Being a giant dick about an accidental transgression helps no one.
If someone is genuinely a dick, have them escorted out of the event.
We will all mess up this year. Let’s work on how we handle the recovery.