It’s that time of year again, when queers break out their aesthetics of rainbow glitter, gowns and gloves galore — aka Pride Month. The LGBTQ+ community excitedly awaits this historic celebration of all that is queerness like little children waiting for Christmas every year.
It’s my first time being openly out for Pride season — a check on my bucket list of “ being queer.” Yet I can’t help but let my past experience with incorporated and exclusionary Pride events cloud my excitement for this upcoming celebration.
My first experience with an LGBTQ+ march was the day the Supreme Court legalized marriage equality throughout the United States. By a beautiful accident, I happened to stumble upon the Trans March.
I walked into the diverse group of people, not knowing what to expect. Many were holding signs for queer and trans liberation while singing chants. One of the signs that stood out to me said, “No pride for some of us without liberation for all of us,” referencing the lack of inclusion for all the letters in LGBTQ+.
The message of the event was clear: Queer people were acting as if equality was here, but it wasn’t really for trans and gender nonconforming folk. The protesters were addressing how modern pride events have problematically left out the trans community.
The next day as I made my way through the sea of rainbows at San Francisco Pride, I realized that their concern was right — the parade was solely focused on marriage equality, thereby excluding the “T” in LGBTQ+.
Everything revolved around slogans such as “Support love” and “Love is love.” It felt like everyone was celebrating marriage equality as if it was the end of LGBTQ+ injustices. But love isn’t the only issue the LGBTQ+ community faces.
There was no mention about the lack of federal protections for discriminating against LGBTQ+ people for housing and employment. No mention of the violence queer and trans people of color face. No mention of the poor access to LGBTQ+ inclusive health care.
The march was filled with elaborate rainbow floats for technology and business corporations. Apple even changed its logo to an apple lined in rainbow. Many corporations also set up booths throughout the march. They had tents with “I support love” slogans, along with rainbow decorations to attract Pride attendees. They were passing out rainbow gear with their companies’ name and slogans.
I remember thinking to myself, “Do these corporations actually support LGBTQ+ people? Would they enforce LGBTQ+-inclusive nondiscrimination policies? How do their own practices uphold the same power systems that systematically oppress queer and trans people?”
Unlike the trans rights event the day before, the Pride Parade didn’t feel like a space for queer folks to celebrate the diversity and beauty of queerness.
The Trans March screamed chants describing the injustices the trans community faced, while the Pride March said nothing.
The Trans March was community-based without the inclusion of any corporations, whereas the Pride March was filled with them. The march just felt like a space for corporations to tokenize and co-opt a homogenized and consumable form of queerness to sell their products.
The reality of the matter is that once Pride Month ends, this “inclusion” does as well — until next year during Pride.
Why do corporations only embrace and celebrate queerness once a year? I wonder if they actually hold themselves to the standard they publicize at the Pride Parade and follow through with their promise that “love is love” every day.
After an hour at Pride, I left unamused and disappointed. I haven’t gone to another Pride parade since, but that doesn’t mean I don’t celebrate my queerness in other ways.
Pride for the beauty of queerness doesn’t have to singularly occur during Pride Month and only in these spaces. It happens every thing single day through LGBTQ+ people simply existing in a world that tells us we should not.
And if these spaces are going to claim to present queerness, they need to be intersectional.