Pride marches are in full swing across the globe, a testament to the legacy of the Stonewall riots and the subsequent struggle for LGBT liberation. However, it throws up the same tensions that arrive every year. Do we need Pride? Should it be political or should it be a celebration of what has already been achieved? Is it too corporate to be a positive force?
Pride marches are in fact quite a unique event, something which started as a radical and violent movement now appears to the average bystander in the West as a non political, even frivolous corporate event. I cannot think of another comparable evolution of a movement. Floats, paid dancers with sponsors on their chests, club nights and X factor contestants are what makes the BBC headlines. So is there any point? Has Pride completely lost its direction?
Some misconceptions of Pride need to be challenged. The image cast of Pride seems to be one which is quite deliberately stripped of its political element. The reality is every Pride parade has large and well established campaigning bodies such as Stonewall or the Campaign for Equal Marriage as well as a wealth of other groups and organisations. This year World Pride in London saw a ‘No Pride in Israeli Apartheid’ campaign countering the ‘pinkwashing’ which has been a central method in pro-Israeli propaganda. These campaigns rarely make the news reports and their demands are not heard as widely as they deserve to be. This is down to commercialisation, meaning the sponsors get the prime positions to promote themselves, as well as a lack of interest from the mainstream media.
Secondly, some believe that LGBT people more or less have equality now, and therefore celebrating LGBT culture is archaic and unnecessary. Leaving the ludicrous notion that Britain has achieved LGBT equality aside for the moment, the wider argument seems to be a worrying capitulation to those who think the LGBT community should simply assimilate into heteronormative society. As Bruno Selun argued in ‘Pink News’, “the politics of difference, power and oppression are here to stay: being white, heterosexual, able, middle-class, Christian and masculine is still the cultural golden standard, and anyone deviating from this script is still often ostracised or attacked.”
This doesn’t mean Pride is free from criticism. The commercial elements should be challenged as it undermines the cultural and political message that is inherent to the history of LGBT people. No matter how corporate pride is, however, it should never be ignored and can still be a tool to demand change, even if it is one blunted by the endless amounts of sponsors. If it is to be reclaimed it needs to be more radical, the ‘No Pride in Israeli Apartheid’ was a brilliant example of this and I will be marching in the Coalition of Resistance ‘No cuts to LGBT services’ bloc at Glasgow Pride in the face of spending cuts to both Pride marches as was seen in London this year as well as LGBT charities and programmes who are having their budgets slashed. Whatever campaign you choose to get involved in, keep up the pressure, demand more, and shout ‘We will not be quiet, Stonewall was a riot!’.
From the ISG site
In the parks, halls and public spaces around Kings Cross
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