Pride and Allies

Our town is having its first Pride celebration.  I’m delighted since I’ve always* lived in cities that celebrated Pride in some notable way: with political fervor in San Diego, debauchery in San Francisco, awe in Sao Paulo, Brazil, community in Tucson, enthusiasm and drag in DC and with families in Baltimore.

Here, planning has been a grassroots movement; recruitment and publicity took place nearly exclusively on Facebook and listservs.  As I see how many businesses are involved and how many supporters surround the event, I feel comfort and welcome in a more overt way than usual.  This is a good place and it’s undeniably a home.

There’s another side to this (always is, isn’t there?).  As with any smaller community, there are bigger groups of allies.  I feel obligated to cherish those individuals, since they are a critical part of improving my life; fighting with me for rights and serving as activists in their daily lives.  And I love them.  But I wish, sometimes, they had more awareness.

Witness: A woman, who I don’t know and I don’t know why that’s important, but it is, RSVP’d that she couldn’t come to pride but that she was excited to send her (male) fiancee.  Exclamation points!

I tried to tone down my initial fuck you (which was strictly internal thankyouverymuch) by reminding myself that she had the best of intentions.  Because she isn’t the only one who sees this as a block party.  A carnival.  A place to go and say, “Look, I went to gay pride!  I am so open-minded!”  We do need her.  We need her to vote with us.  But we need her also to not dangle her rights while speaking about our celebration.  It’s easy.  “I wish I could be there!”  Or, “Can’t believe I have to miss this – so proud of our city!”

Where the problematic part lies (and that word is loaded, isn’t it?) is in her assertion that while she can’t come (which, given the 700 confirmed attendees, we didn’t need to know) but that she presents as straight (mention of her male SO) and that she’s engaged to be married (which is a privilege not available to the people who are throwing the party).

She didn’t mean it that way.  But, it’s hard to see how your own privilege impacts other people.  I don’t find it insulting as much as it is unaware and uninformed.  I also know she’s not alone.  Just as with all the other Pride celebrations I’ve attended, there will be allies and anti-allies (protesters? maybe not.) and it will all be family.  Because that’s what  we are right?  We’re Family.  And the guests at our party are also family.  The aunt who means well but doesn’t get it, the brother-in-law who drinks too much and gets handsy, the cousin who harbors barely concealed prejudices and the sister who loves us, the brother who supports us and the extended relations who vote for us.  That’s the bottom line isn’t it?  It doesn’t really matter if you slip while aligning and supporting.  It matters that you vote for us.

 

 

*I suppose the city I lived in while in Africa didn’t have a Pride celebration but I choose to forget much of those two years and so I don’t chalk it up to a loss.

 

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8 Responses

  1. When I was living in San Diego, I knew a group of very very STRAIGHT, clueless girls. They looked at Pride as something of a way to “prove” themselves- it had been suggested (and they had acted like) they were a bit homophobic before, so they went to Pride all dressed up and pretended to be each others’ girlfriends and kiss and giggle and then went home and posted all their “prideful” pictures to facebook so all their male friends could laugh and comment on them. It was pretty sickening, on my end, to know that a celebration that’s so special to us was used in that kind of manner, and that those girls really thought they were “proving” anything. Alas, that’s how these events work… you get the people who really “should” be there- true allies, LGBT, family, etc, but then you also get those who just want to cash in on the party atmosphere or have something to check off their bucket list.

    I don’t know if that lady who posted that comment is just clueless or if she falls into a more sinister category, but I definitely get the annoyance!

    • Wow. That is…I mean, I suppose I knew something like you describe COULD happen, I think I just prefer to think it would never happen. Ugh. I’m going to hope/confidently assume that we won’t have any such shenanigans and that I can respectfully speak out if I do see them. As for this particular one, she won’t, of course, be joining us (and I doubt her fiancee will just pop in on his own /judgement) and I suspect this stems from cluelessness rather than anything else.

  2. Infuriating, but if LGBT individuals can be homophobic, so can allies. I think she meant to announce her straightness to the world, and in so doing, flaunted her marriage rights. So infuriating! Another thing I hate: when I talk to allies and they really support my wife and I, but have NO CLUE about laws that affect us or our legal system. I swear, this past weekend, my dad indicated that he thought we could get all the same rights as marriage now!

    • I hear you! I never mind educating but I’m always sort of surprised when I hear someone say, “Oh…wait…you can’t be on her health insurance? I never even thought of that!” I’m my own little walking awareness campaign!

  3. Holy crap, there’s a pride in town now? Where the hell was that when I was in high school? Oh yes, it was more than a decade in the future. Um, anyway.

    I get it, about the cluelessness and all. Although I myself have a tendency to take part in festivities for ethnicities to which I do not belong, and now I’m a little worried about my own cluelessness. “What? My Greek ancestry? Well, none that I know of, but I did take art history in college, and I’ve got a pretty good working knowledge of your pre-Christian deities, and, um, oh look! Spanikopita!”

    We do need her (and her future husband) to vote with us. And while I don’t think they’ll ever fully get it, in the same way that I’ll never entirely get what it’s like to be non-white, maybe next year they’ll come to Pride, and someone will enlighten them. Or maybe they’ll be just as clueless then, and people will mock them gently out of their earshot. I’m okay with that option as well. In the meantime, maybe just be grateful that she didn’t RSVP no, on the grounds that she figured the Lord was going to smite everyone, and she didn’t want to be caught in the blast. (True story: my freshman year of college, the Baptist Student Union and the Gay Student Union had their spring dances on the same night, in the same building. The Baptists insisted that there be at least one full room in between them and The Gays, apparently for similar reasons.)

    • I go to celebrations that aren’t my own, too, and I think I should probably more mindful of their purpose so that I don’t make the same mistake she did. There are probably fewer landmines with less controversial events. That said, I’ll try to make sure we hang on to Pride for you for the next time!

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