Why I’m Not Going To Pride
by Mia McKenzie
It’s almost pride weekend in San Francisco. Preparations are being made for any number of festive activities. Marches, parades, parties. Right now, countless dykes are painting signs that read, “Dykes united will never be divided,” and such. Countless drag queens are deciding which wigs to don for the big day. Glitter is sold out everywhere.
I’ve gotten Facebook invites to more events than I can keep track of. There is something pride-related to get into every hour of the day from five on Friday to Sunday at two a.m. It’s all very exciting. I guess.
This whole “pride” thing…I don’t get it. I mean, don’t get me wrong, when I was younger, when I was first out, when the newness of gayness in public made the idea of parades and pride festivals really tantalizing, I was into it. I attended pride parades in many of the cities I lived in, including Philly and Denver. But after a while, it got…you know…old. And not just old. It got…pointless.
I needed pride parades when I was just coming out, I guess. I needed just to know that other “gays and lesbians” existed. And I guess I needed to spend a Sunday with all of them once a year? But very quickly what I needed, as a young, queer person, changed. Today what I need has nothing whatsoever to do with parades. Nothing whatsoever to do with Bud Light sponsorship.
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.
I know what some of y’all are going to say. “It’s a parade! It’s fun! I like it! Why do you hate everything?” To you, I say, Please stop hearing only what you want to hear. Thanks.
I don’t hate parades. And I find glitter to be all kinds of wonderful. And, yeah, wear those hot pants, guuuurl! AND ALSO, I have a brain and a sense of justice and a heart that connects to the suffering of other human beings. K?
I just wish some of this “pride” energy (and a LOT of this Pride money) was being spent demanding justice for Brandi Martell. And Cece McDonald. I wish all the people who care about after-parties cared about Rekia Boyd. (I realize that some people care about these things simultaneously. Most people, however, do not. Please don’t talk to me about how you know five people who do, and how that makes my argument null and void. Thanks again.)
I do not identify as “gay” or “lesbian”. The reasons are myriad, and it comes down to the fact that my association with gays and lesbians is with marriage equality and Subarus and we are just like straight people once you get past all the butt-fucking. I identify as queer because that term, for me, is about the ways in which I do not want to conform, the ways in which the idea of being “just like straight people” makes me want to watch paint dry, or something else that sounds equally interesting. More than that, though, being queer, for me, is about understanding the intersections. About being able to see how sexuality and gender and race and class and a whole bunch of other things are all tools used to keep the same machine in tip-top shape. And you know what? I have never heard anybody talking about that type of shit on a stage after a pride parade.
So, I’m opting out. (This is not me telling you that you should opt out. This is me saying that I am.)
Because, despite what today’s LGBT mega-organizations want you to think, Stonewall was a RIOT, y’all. Not a parade.
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Mia McKenzie is a writer and a smart, scrappy Philadelphian with a deep love of vegan pomegranate ice cream and fake fur collars. She is a black feminist and a freaking queer, facts that are often reflected in her writings, which have won her some awards and grants, such as the Astraea Foundation’s Writers Fund Award and the Leeway Foundation’s Transformation Award. She just finished a novel and has a short story forthcoming in The Kenyon Review. She is a nerd, and the creator of Black Girl Dangerous, a revolutionary blog.