Pride For All?
Photo courtesy of Queerty
Some of my queer friends are up in arms about how corporatized and straight-ified gay pride week and pride parades have become. This year at Boston’s Pride Parade, I saw TD Bank-branded rainbow flags, corporate employees from Liberty Mutual and wristbands with Delta airlines carved into them. Whatever, I love a nice freebee – plastered with capitalist branding or not.
My initial reaction to this democratization of Pride was positive. It’s great to see so many big-name brands openly and enthusiastically supporting LGBT folks. It makes sense. In years past, attendance at events over the course of Boston’s pride week hit 1 million+ and that’s a lot of eyes and dollars to put your name in front of. Market Watch reports that Boston’s pride parade attracted 44 corporate sponsors this year. But then I see tweets like this one from a merchandiser at Abercrombie, it starts to make more sense as to why some folks are upset.
Remember how pride started? It was the Stonewall riots, a series of violent protests, that took place in Greenwich Village in 1969 following a police raid on the Stonewall Inn. Police raids on gay bars in the 60s were not uncommon. By the 1970s activists had formed America’s first gay pride marches. So today, gay pride is not only a day drinking extravaganza with fabulous sangria and even more fabulous drag queens; gay pride is a day where LGBT people can declare and demand their freedom to exist, live, create families, work and love without persecution.
For me, this is what is sometimes so frustrating about the influx of corporatized pride parades. When we lose touch of its purpose, its roots, pride loses its significance, impact and meaning. Ultimately, no one can “own” a day or an identity or a celebration of human differences, but as pride becomes more and more of a culturally acceptable annual event, I think LGBT folks deserve to still have their own space to celebrate that feeling of otherness and overcoming adversity on which gay pride was founded.
I’ll still support and attend pride parades, and think that everyone can and should attend – so long as we don’t forget the why.
Posted by Mike