In 2018, while in West Hollywood to cover LA Pride!, I chatted with people there (e.g. from the organizing party – that is also called LA Pride! – to select participants, et cetera). There was this acceptance (I’d say even “surrender”) to a redefinition of “Pride”, at least in WeHo (if not LA) – i.e. that it’s not necessarily a struggle but is just one big party.
I’d say this “shift” can be summed in LA Pride!’s “justification” that “Pride means different things to different people. It’s about being proud to be a part of the LGBTQ+ community; standing up for equality and human rights; being role models for younger generations; and, for many, it’s about simply looking forward to an annual celebration…”
I say now, just as I said then, that particularly the latter point is valid. Yes, Pride is personal; as such, those who want to highlight the “struggle” are as “valid” as those who desire to “just party”.
But this validity is, for me, only good to a point.
And this point is breached when:
- “Pride” forgets what it is for, and becomes a cash cow for those organizing it; or
- When – instead of unifying the LGBTQIA community – it becomes a source of friction, causing (not just highlighting) what divides us (and this is almost always because of social class, with the elite/social climbers who lead “Pride” profiting off the misery of their poorer LGBTQIA siblings, even hijacking #prideisaprotest as if hoping the memeification of the same gives them credibility, in turn giving them eyeballs, that in turn translates to more marketing/advertising revenues).
That there’s money in “Pride” is a moot point – e.g. from LA to Sydney to so many Western countries holding American-influenced Pride celebrations, you pay big bucks to join the after-parade party, and then pay more for the “recovery” after-parade parties; check how even anti-LGBTQIA companies slap the rainbow on their products when June comes, and so many LGBTQIA people buy the same, equating “representation” with caving in to the commercial interests even of those who do not fully accept them; and so on.
This is why it’s easy to argue that Pride, in itself, seems to be “devolving”; at times even becoming a tool for LGBTQIA people to step on each other’s toes for the sake of being able to claim who’s “heading” Pride. For example, a few years back, Task Force Pride was replaced by Metro Manila Pride WITHOUT community consultation. And more recently, in Baguio, Amianan Pride Council (the city’s LGBTQIA community-based Pride organizer) was basically disregarded (I’d say, trampled) by non-grassroots organizations (some not even based in the Cordilleras but Imperial Manila-centric) that organized its own “Pride ‘march’” there without consulting the Pride organizer there for the past 15 years (note, too, how “march” is now just another word used to claim political “legitimacy”, even if the goal isn’t political but just to “parade the gays”).
Yes, let’s party. We’ve had successes somehow – e.g. the growing number of local government units (LGUs) in the Philippines to pass anti-discrimination ordinances (ADOs) even if we still don’t have a national law protecting the human rights of LGBTQIA Filipinos; to some extent, the growing media visibility (though the actual representation may be questionable; and which merits a separate, perhaps even lengthier, discussion); and so on. All the same, these need to be celebrated, indeed.
But (at least try to) always go back to the roots of Pride.
Because so many LGBTQIA people can’t even attend those parades because they’re dealing with day-to-day issues (like making a living so they’d be able to eat today, or feed people they love for the next days).
Because so many grassroots LGBTQIA organizations do not even get the same funding (if they get any at all) that the media-savvy organizations that actually only exist/surface once a year to host the commercialized “Pride” parade, and so they are unable to serve the communities that actually need to be served.
Because many popular profiteering organizations (including those helmed by LGBTQIA people) only use “Pride” to advance vested interests; and if this means stepping on not-that-popular grassroots organizations, then… fuck if they care.
If we forget these, then really, where is this “Pride” headed?