After suffering from a mild case of writer’s block yesterday I wasn’t sure how today would go with my writing. I was prepared to write about getting older as a Gay man and not attending PRIDE this weekend because Hal always works on the weekends and it is never an enjoyable time being there without him. I had the blog post almost written in my head when I saw that the local news channel was going to cover the PRIDE parade. Perfect! I thought that Hal and I could watch it together after he got home as we enjoyed a nice evening together. Like so many plans, this one was about to be derailed without warning.
Things started out normally enough. The TV coverage was all about the happy atmosphere in DC as the parade prepared to get underway. Hal got home and we started watching until it became apparent that something was going wrong. We have been to DC PRIDE in the past and we know that many times the parade can be delayed for some reason. We weren’t that concerned, but after close to 30 minutes of no commentary from the talking head reporters, I began to check social media to see what was going on. Sure enough, the parade was BLOCKED by protestors!
Like so many, my first thought was that some lunatic RWNJ group had managed to stop the parade at some point. This was quickly disproven by people on the scene who, erroneously, said that it was a BLM protest. They were only partially correct. The protestors were opposed to the police and corporate involvement in DC PRIDE. While at first this might seem a silly thing to protest, it quickly became apparent to me these protestors had a very valid point. Black and other minority LGBTQ people are much more likely to be stopped and harassed and arrested and abused by the police while at the same time, these people are also subjected to discrimination by the corporations that are sponsoring DC PRIDE. This was the voice of those who could not make their voices heard any other way. The fact that the media had not even addressed why the parade had been stopped proved this fact. DC PRIDE was exactly what the protestors said it was, a corporate money grab designed to appeal to the majority of “acceptable” LGBTQ people while leaving those minorities out in the cold.
I wrote last year about how corporatized DC PRIDE had become. You could basically show up there, get life insurance and open a bank account and have a brokerage agree to manage your money, all while being subjected to harassing advertisers trying to peddle worthless shit at every opportunity. But a rainbow flag so you blend in. Get some cheap rainbow sunglasses or a rainbow fan to try to stay cool. All designed to separate a fool from his/her money. Oh, and don’t be overweight or older because that doesn’t fit with the brand that we are creating here. Bears over here, twinks on that side of the street, attractive lesbians over here, other lesbians behind those trees, fat LGBTQ just go a block away and don’t act like you’re associated with us, etc. It was very disgusting to see that people were being pushed into pens based on stereotypes, and those pens were targeted by the “appropriate” corporate sponsors. Want to have a good time at DC PRIDE? NO problem if you are white, or attractive or young or non-BTQ. But don’t try it if you are in one of those 3 unfortunate categories, especially if you are also a minority. That was the modus operandi of DC PRIDE that last few times we went to PRIDE.
The protestors represent those who literally must fight to survive. They are the people that the police can abuse and even kill with impunity and even the majority of the “acceptable” LGBTA community won’t say a word. To casually ignore this problem is a problem that cannot be forgotten, and if it takes stopping a GOD-DAMNED PARADE, so be it! If your PRIDE dinner plans are thrown into chaos and that means more to you than the suffering of other human beings who desire the same amount of freedom and liberty that you seem to enjoy, then congratulations, you are the problem and NOT the protestors.
To the eternal annoyance of the RWNJ lunatics, LGBTQ equality is more accepted than ever and won’t go away. The challenge we face is making sure that is extends to EVERY LGBTQ person, and not just to some. DC PRIDE reflects the limited acceptance that I just mentioned, so it is fair game for protests.
Remember that Stonewall was NOT a corporately sponsored event, it was a RIOT to PROTEST discrimination. What happened today at DC PRIDE should be viewed as no less monumental than Stonewall, and it should serve as a rallying cry to bring not just the LGBTQ community, but as many people as possible together to END THE HATE and the discrimination and the abuse of power by the police and their corporate masters.