Pride 2010 Aftermath Day 1

Posted: 07/31/2010 in Queer
Tags: , , , , , ,

An odd quirk of my creative impulses that I’ve never understood is that I’m nearly always at my most clear eyed and introspective as a writer after a night of hard partying, whether I’m fighting off god’s own hangover or not. Luckily, I had the good sense to hydrate properly, so I’m good to go. Which is good, because this Pride has kept the gears in my head grinding away for a couple weeks now.

I’ve kind of come to the conclusion this year that Pride is kind of a Queer New Year. You go out and party, reconnect with friends, and make all kinds of resolutions about how you’re going to be a way better queer between tomorrow and next Pride. That’s what I do anyway, or at least seem to have been doing for the last couple years. There’s been a lot of talk and anxiety this year over the future of Pride from Vancouver to New York, as well as some distressing events surrounding Toronto Pride. It seems as if there’s a lot of growing pains in the established large scale events in North America from uneasiness about the ever expanding corporate sponsorship after the “Pink Dollar” to the schism developing between the cisgender male homosexual population and the rest of the queer community. It’s even really just two facets of the same problem that arises from how the gender and class structure in North America works. The “Pink Dollar” only exists because cisgender homosexual men generally have the same opportunities and income level of their heterosexual counterparts but are left with far more disposable income because they generally have fewer or no dependents while the lesbian and transgender demographics generally belong to lower income brackets.

No matter how exuberant and rowdy the celebrations around Pride are, that schism among others will simmer below the surface. In Vancouver, lesbian and trans issues and groups are well represented and looked after during Pride; we haven’t had the kind of ghettoizing that occurred in Toronto this year, but a lot of us are very cognizant that we rely on the goodwill and support- both moral and financial- of the cisgender homosexual male portion of the community. It’s an imbalance thrust on the community by the outside world; the patriarchy if you will. However we can’t simply all come together every year, party hard, and then disappear back into our various circles. We have to work hard to not just talk big about making Pride into something bigger than a party, but treat the entire institution as a time to come together at every level, in every way.

That’s why I like the New Year’s corollary; it treats Pride as both a celebration and an opportunity for betterment. If everyone came into it every year taking stock of where they are in their personal journey and where the community as a whole is in addition to which parties they’re going to hit, it would create an incredible opportunity to recapture the consciousness raising efforts of the 1960s. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with having a good rowdy party propped up by corporate money as long as the acceptance of that money is on your terms. We owe it to ourselves to enjoy the freedoms that our predecessors won for us and have a good time. Pride is an astounding opportunity for us to party without anxiety or reservation, to be as out as we want and truly be ourselves. It’s a big deal for me now to slather on make up, strap on a bra, and go out on the town not only without having to look over my shoulder for a transphobe with a broken beer bottle, but to be in an environment of complete acceptance that extends outside of my tight knit circle of capital “A” Allies.

There’s a certain amount of people who take the Adam Lambert stance to Pride, that they don’t want it to be political. They just want a party. I personally see that as being a pretty invalid and ignorant perspective. The 1960s proved that you cannot change the world with sex, drugs, rock & roll, and a positive attitude. For around the fiftieth time, I come back to that same part in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas where Thompson is talking about being able to see the high water mark of the Age of Aquarius etched into the Nevada hills, about how they were convinced that they would win, that they would prevail by the sheer magnitude of their energy. You can really see that we- and by we I mean primarily Generations X and Y- are dangerously lapsing into that attitude of complacent self assurance that the rights we hold to be self-evident will be kept, that things will get better. I got a pretty rude awakening about the state of the queer community and it’s self awareness while watching The Real L Word (out of boredom/morbid curiosity/need to be in the loop). While in Las Vegas, Mikey decided that it would be an awesome time to get married so she sends her assistant out to find a chapel that does gay marriage. I’m pretty sure you can guess how that turned out.

I didn’t actually plan that whole Las Vegas/Las Vegas thing, it just kind of worked out nicely. But the thing here is that in ten years I don’t want to be languishing half drunk in Nevada somewhere still stuck with a penis and looking up at that same high water mark. None of us do, but that’s where we’re headed. Well, some of us want to keep their penises. It’s the other part no one wants. Prop 8 should have been a wake up call to the entire continent, that our rights are still completely at the whims of the heterosexual majority no matter where you are. Earlier in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Thompson describes Circus Circus as being America if the Nazis had won the war. A distraction for people to waste their lives away in while their rights and quality of life eroded out from under their feet. It is by no means far fetched to suggest that the evolution of Pride since the first march in 1981 into the modern spectacle I’m in the middle of today could in fact be our undoing. It’s quite probable that if steps are not taken soon, we could look back at the 21st century Pride parade as dancing while Rome burns.

Don’t take this as some kind of Chicken Little hysteria, but as an opportunity for introspection. This week’s XTRA!- Vancouver’s free weekly LBGT paper- is mostly devoted to these same kind of musings about the nature, importance, and future of Pride which tells me that I’m not the only one who looks at Pride as not just a time for wild parties, but for introspection and plans to make sure we to find the world a little safer and brighter for us as we line up for drink tickets at next year’s Davie Street block party. A few less Iranian gays executed since we last donned a set of pride beads. A few more countries legalizing gay marriage since the last time we cheered on the Dykes on Bikes. A few less gay bashings in Moscow since we last bought a pair of Pride briefs at the Priape booth after the parade. These are all noble goals, and ones that are within our reach.

I try to do my part by yelling and screaming about who Clevon Jones is to my friends as he rolls by in the parade and my trademark drunken ramblings about queer politics in diners and pizza parlors as the sun comes up, but there’s only so much that a single fired up transdyke can do to change the shape of Pride. In a perfect world, Pride would look a lot like the San Diego International Comic Con. Wild costumes, wilder parties, to be sure but the key thing to appropriate from the venerable SDCCI is the convention spirit. You come to congregate with your peers and sit in on a diverse range of panels on both important issues and the latest frivolous piece of entertainment. To be sure there are panel discussions and workshops around Pride. There were a few good ones affiliated with the first annual Trans March here in Vancouver. The problem is that they tend to only attract the portion of the community already actively involved in the issues and get drowned out by the splashy parade floats and ubiquitously advertised parties. My dream would be to see that side of Pride gathered under the same umbrella and facilitated in a way that would make it feel like a natural outgrowth of the event.

For now, that’s all just another hangover fueled New Year’s Resolution. To make it, or anything like it a reality is going to require more than staying drunk over the next 48 hours. It’s going to take 364 days of determination.

  1. […] good friend of mine puts it well on her blog: I’ve kind of come to the conclusion this year that Pride is kind of a Queer New Year. You go out […]

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