Social Question

Aethelflaed's avatar

Is Pride still a useful event?

Asked by Aethelflaed (13752points) June 22nd, 2012

I was reading a critique of Pride by Mia McKenzi in which she says that Pride doesn’t accomplish the things she needs:

What I need, and what most of the folks in my community need, is access to education, and health care, and food that isn’t slowly killing us. We need for our tax dollars to not be spent killing other brown people all over the world. We need the police to stop using our black bodies for target practice. We need…shit, we need a lot of things. And very few of them involve hot pants and feathered floats.

She continues on saying that Pride is more of an corporate event for white gays and lesbians who want to be normal, with marriage and a Subaru, not an event in which people discuss the intersections of race, gender, class, and sexuality, and how society uses them to harm people:

I just wish some of this “pride” energy (and a LOT of this Pride money) was being spent demanding justice for Brandi Martell [a trans woman of color who was murdered. And Cece McDonald [a trans woman of color who was arrested for murder after attempting to defend herself against a physical attack] . I wish all the people who care about after-parties cared about Rekia Boyd [an unarmed woman of color shot by the police].

Is McKenzie right – that, “despite what today’s LGBT mega-organizations want you to think, Stonewall was a RIOT, y’all. Not a parade.”? Is Pride still a useful event? What is it accomplishing? Do you attend? How could Pride be changed to be better activism for LGBT/QUILTBAG rights? What things would you not want to change?

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20 Answers

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

There are many battles to be fought and many ways to get there: legal and illegal, fun and not so fun. This one event, the Pride parade is important, historically, and relevant presently because there are still so many people out there who hate to see us walk with our communities and look happy doing so. I understand the critique and the fact that much of pride is co-opted by the homonormative elements of our movement, I get it, believe you me but the youth and for those who still want to go, they should be able to and, if you don’t want to go, understand that not everyone’s on the same page and, to reiterate, there are many ways to be out and queer and political.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

The writer calls PRIDE pointless in the third paragraph, and then she goes on to explain how important it was for her when she was first coming out. That contradiction is aggravating.

PRIDE is important for this gay man who lives in a little town in the middle of nowhere. We don’t have a PRIDE event here. I would love to be able to participate in one. There are many in my community who hate me simply because of the way I choose to express my sexuality.

On a larger scale, PRIDE is still relevant since it brings to light the injustices that still exist for the LGBTQ community as a whole. There are large scale organizations working to bring an end to homelessness among LGBTQ youth and providing opportunities for further education for the same.

PRIDE exists to celebrate just how far we’ve come. Only 40 years ago, being homosexual was still considered a mental illness. Only 30 years ago, the AIDS epidemic started under a national government in the US that ignored it until large scale LGBTQ organizations began protests.

PRIDE does not address every issue haunting the LGBTQ community, but it does bring to light the fact we are here, and we are not going away.

syz's avatar

I am lucky enough to live in a liberal, diverse, and tolerant area in the middle of a conservative, Republican leaning state. I sometimes forget just how lucky I am here.

For me, Pride is an opportunity to be just one of the crowd. An opportunity to be who I am without fear of discrimination or reprisals. And I’d guess it affects a lot of people that way.

I have a friend in Texas who cannot even conceive of openly celebrating Gay Pride. Until Pride becomes just as common and accepted as every other festival and parade, it has a place and a purpose.

marinelife's avatar

I think Pride is an important series of events. It is the only time in the year that gay people come together in a public show of strength.

wundayatta's avatar

Thirty years ago, when AIDS was first becoming known, I lived in NYC. I had many gay friends, some of whom did not live in the City, and they were the ones I worried about. One—my best friend—lived in the heart of fundamentalist Ohio. I didn’t understand it. He complained so much, and I was afraid what might happen if people found out who he was.

Thirty years later, he lives in another hick town, but now he is out to everyone, and is a respected member of the community. Indeed, he is married, and his marriage is now legal in his state, although he didn’t get married there.

I feel like the Pride parades play a role in expanding awareness of the homosexual community from the New Yorks and San Franciscos of the world to the other state capitals and to the small college towns and now even the red neck towns of this country. Yes, they may help whites and men more, but I see gay rights as a model for other stigmatized communities, and wonder if there is a day that will come that I can step out of my particular closet.

I’m not proud. Or I am and am not. Seeing other stigmatized groups proclaiming their pride in who they are helps me and I believe it still helps them.

People of color seem to be the last to get help, but will giving up pride marches help the lbgtq of color community more? I don’t see how.

bolwerk's avatar

If people enjoy it, is it useful? I can’t imagine St. Patty’s Day parades still exist exclusively to show Irish solidarity in the face of Irish Need Not Apply culture. They might be kept around in part to mark the history, which is useful IMHO, but a bigger reason is they get turnout and people presumably have fun.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@Hawaii_Jake PRIDE is still relevant since it brings to light the injustices that still exist for the LGBTQ community as a whole. But see, this is what I’m not so sure of. Does anyone actually not know that gay marriage is a crazy-hot topic right now, regardless of which side they come down on? Is Pride fighting for rights other than to get married? Are they putting that energy and money into getting rid of abstinence-only sex ed? Are they fighting against violence against trans people, who are still in something of a ‘pre-Matthew Shepard’ period in terms of rights? Or are they promoting leaders like Dan Savage, who will create an unsafe environment for anyone who isn’t white, male, cis, thin, and gay (not bi, gay), and defining marriage equality as the be-all-end-all of gay rights? Because mine is more about Dan Savage and selling rainbow merchandise than pushing the envelope. And it’s a city that’s had Pride for decades now.

Smaller locations, like yours, probably do need Pride. But I have my doubts that Pride is changing any minds in locations where it’s been around for awhile; that anyone is against gay rights on the 12th Pride, but the 13th somehow changes their mind.

Also, I think she was saying that Pride had become pointless for her; she explicitly says she’s not telling anyone else to opt out, just sharing why she is.

@wundayatta You don’t have to give up Pride. You could drastically change it. You could have marches that aren’t sponsored by companies that don’t regularly support LGBT rights; mine was sponsored by Coors, the head of which voted against legalizing gay marriage but for a constitutional amendment banning it in 2006 in my state, and failed to back up the lip service he gave to civil unions at the time when a civil union bill came up just a month ago. We could get rid of companies who will take our money, but won’t give us our rights. We could promote instead the stores that are on our side – the sex-positive sex shop, the shop that sells rainbow merchandise year-round, the LGBT/feminist bookstore. We could talk about issues other than marriage. We could work to make a safe space not just for those who like to screw the same sex, but those that don’t wanna screw at all, those who like to screw all the sexes, those who aren’t white, those who aren’t cis, and those who have been sexually assaulted. We could spend less time buying rainbow-colored crap that many can’t afford, and more time organizing book clubs, board games nights, book drives, and other organizations so that people can feel safe on a regular basis, not just one night a year. We could distribute dental dams as freely as we do condoms – or more, since dental dams are significantly more expensive than condoms, and not often handed out for free at clinics and doctors offices.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@marinelife What? Gay people get together all the time to show strength publicly. We’re not inactive save for the later part of June.

tinyfaery's avatar

Maybe when Pride happens sans the “God Hates Fags” signs we can finally say Pride is no longer necessary.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

@Aethelflaed : There is more injustice facing the LGBTQ community than simply marriage equality.

If I cannot hold my boyfriend’s hand in public out of fear of emotional, verbal, or physical abuse, that is injustice.

If I cannot kiss my boyfriend in public out of those same fears, that is injustice.

If I cannot wear the clothes I desire because I have those same fears, that is injustice.

The list of how LGBTQ people deny their freedom of expression could go on and on. I believe that PRIDE allows us to openly display our beauty without that fear. I believe it leads to displaying our beauty during other times without that fear.

I also believe that PRIDE events do change minds after the 12th and 13th incarnations. I cannot link to the photographs at the moment, but at a PRIDE parade this year, a Christian organization actually lined part of the route in support of the marchers. The Christians held signs apologizing for other hateful Christian groups’ abuse of LGBTQ people.

Like @tinyfaery, I look forward to the day when PRIDE parades are no longer necessary. I look forward to the time when gay neighborhoods in large cities are no longer needed, because LGBTQ people are accepted wherever they go. I hope for these things.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

The first 2 pictures in this list are the ones I mentioned above.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@tinyfaery That seems… unreasonable. Yes, Westboro is horrible. But the Flat Earth Society has over 4x as many members as Westboro; there will always be nutters in the world. And using the craziest of the opposition as justification to not be more inclusive isn’t right.

@Hawaii_Jake I never said there wasn’t more injustice facing the LGBT community than marriage inequality; I’m pretty sure I was arguing the exact opposite. I was saying that I don’t see Pride addressing much beyond marriage inequality. And I think part of the problem is that homophobic Christians aren’t the only reason people don’t feel accepted. Many, many queers don’t feel accepted by the mainstream gay rights community, don’t feel safe, don’t feel like their issues are given much consideration.

Yeah, I’ve seen the pictures. But I’m not really sure that proves that Pride changed their minds. I’m guessing some of those (like the three on the left) were already ok with gay rights, and felt the need to speak out against those in their community who are doing shitty things. And the man on the right could have changed his mind because his brother came out, or members of his church started coming out, or because he saw a documentary, or…

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

@Aethelflaed : I haven’t been to a PRIDE event in over 6 years when I last went to the festival in Dallas, Texas. In that particular event, there were many different races represented, and there were many different groups within the community in the parade.

What I do see in the little community I live in is a lot of trans people speaking up at safe venues to be heard. I’m a drag queen myself, and I know a lot of trans-women. They are passionate about their rights. They also face daunting abuse at the hands of families who will not support them.

As for the pictures, they are what they are. Speculation about the people in the pictures serves no purpose at all.

plethora's avatar

Was it ever?

Kayak8's avatar

I am aware of each of the situations cited in Mia McKenzi’s thoughts about Pride. It seems she is taking advantage of the opportunity of Pride to share her thoughts. I think her reminders are important and I am not taking her literally—that is the nature of writing an opinion piece as you take advantage of the timing or circumstances to make a point.

To take the argument more literally seems akin (to me anyway) of saying “there should be no more celebrations of Mardi Gras for straight people (e.g., no parade) until the deeper issues of racism and sexism that plague New Orleans are addressed.”

There are many events in the course of an individual’s life and in the course of a community’s life. The call to think about these very real issues is important. When you fight for civil rights every single day, a day off to celebrate accomplishments made (however hollow or limited) seems welcome.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@plethora Yes, it was and is. But thanks for asking.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@Kayak8 I didn’t take her as saying “there should be no Pride”, so much as “I’m not interested in going until Pride changes”.

Brian1946's avatar


The first 2 pictures in this list are the ones I mentioned above.

Thanks for the link.
I was tearfully touched by a lot of those images, including this one.

Brian1946's avatar


@plethora Yes, it was and is. But thanks for asking.

No tilde needed for that one. ;-)

downtide's avatar

So long as there is still ignorance, hatred and prejudice against LGBT people, then yes, Pride is still useful.

Where I am in Manchester, our Pride event is not just a march, it’s a huge 4-day festival People complain about the £13 price tag and say it should be free for all, but the ticket price funds the resources that are available to the LGBT community all year round; a community centre, free condoms, free HIV testing, counselling centre, social groups and many others. Without our Pride event, none of those things would exist here.

I attend every year and I march every year under the banner of my local transgender group. I wouldn’t change a thing, and I don’t begrudge a penny of that £13 – I probably use up more than that in Pride-funded resources during the year anyway.

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