It’s Pride season! For us queer folks it can be a fun time to be extra gay and loud about it and go to parades. However, we can’t forget that the first Pride was a riot and this holiday would not have happened without Marsha P. Johnson, a Black bisexual disabled trans sex worker. Even with the history being well known at this point, many communities’ Prides are incredibly whitewashed.
By whitewashed I mean that white gays and lesbians intentionally or unintentionally make decisions that have harmful effects on individuals and communities of color, especially Black queer folks. Obviously this same white supremacy is in effect all year round in white-dominant LGBTQIA organizations, but at Pride it can become especially visible, even to white folks like me.
Here are four ways that we can resist the whitewashing of pride.
1. Fight the Racism of Your Local Pride Events and Organizations
Where I live Pride is the same weekend as Juneteenth (a commemoration of the ending of slavery, observed on or near June 19). Me and many other community members have pointed out to the local Pride organizers that this is incredibly racist because (among other things) it’s essentially making Black LGBT folks choose between identities, keeps our queer community super white, takes potential vendors away from Juneteenth, and so on. (Hopefully by the time you are reading this has changed, since we are currently working to get the Pride organizers to move next year’s Pride, since Pride is celebrated throughout the summer in many places.)
There are probably similar (albeit less egregious) ways that your local Pride organizers or affiliated organizations are enacting their (implicit or explicit) racist biases. Listen to the Black and other POC queer folks in your town and support them in their critiques and actions against the events in your town. If they say to boycott specific events or vendors, participate in the boycott.
More Radical Reads: What It’s Like to Get a Queer Divorce After Fighting for Marriage Equality
2. Support Black and POC Queer Creatives and Businesses
Pride is not only about “community,” it’s also about business. As Prides have become commercialized, a lot of people with shitty politics and practices are making money off of us. That’s why it’s so important to put your money where your mouth is and support Black (and other POC) queer creatives and businesses at Pride and during the rest of the year. If you are in charge of booking talent, selecting vendors, or any other kind of organizational money spending, then you can have a real impact.
Don’t know where to start? Here is a list of some awesome Black queer, trans, and gender nonconforming artists to support:
Chris Jay – The Queerbook – Photography
Kyem Asa Elijah Brown – Graphic Design
Obsidian Bells- Maybe Heaven – Visual Art
And of course our own Sonya Renee Taylor!!!!
More Radical Reads: 4 Ways Sick and Disabled White Folks Can Show Up for Anti-Racism
3. No Cops
Lots of Pride events specifically invite or welcome police in uniform. This is not okay. Police continue to kill Black people without facing consequences. I’m not advocating (here) for off-duty, out of uniform police to be kept out of Pride, but as long as cops are there in an official capacity, your event is broadcasting itself as not a safe place for Black folks and other people of color, especially undocumented folks. Protest the inclusion of police at Pride or any other events that are welcoming to police forces.
4. Support Your Local POC Queer Organizations
If you live in a city, there may be organizations that support LGBTQIA communities of color. I guarantee they always need your money and may need your labor. If you are a white queer, your queerness in no way automatically makes you less racist (though many of us think this). As white folks we need to always be putting our money, time, and energy into Black and POC queer-focused organizations that are already doing the work.
Pride season is a mixed time for queers that care about racial and economic justice. So many of the celebrations are infused with white supremacy, it’s hard to feel very proud. It’s (past) time for us to fight the rampant whitewashing and support the communities that are the most marginalized.
[Featured Image: A crowd of people holding rainbow flags. They are in front of a beige building. Source: pexels.com]