What is Pride Anymore? | Opinion

  • Let’s retire the name ‘Stonewall’

Photo by James O’Keefe, via Wikimedia Commons.

Pride has lost the plot of its origin story.

Over the last five decades, Pride festivals have exploded across the world. It’s brought our community an unmeasurable amount of visibility. That’s a good thing.

But there has been a trade-off.

Pride has now become a ubiquitous part of LGBTQ culture. It’s been hijacked by corporatizations and unbridled and unchecked consumerism. From Pride themed Oreos and Skittles to mouthwash and toilet paper – the rainbows never end.

So what does Pride even mean anymore?

Pride used to be reserved for June. Now “Pride” is all year round – in South Florida, the festivities kick off in January in Hollywood.

The Stonewall Riots in 1969 were a pivotal moment in queer history. Many LGBTQ folks – especially BIPOC people of trans experience – were forced to defend themselves from the harassment and brutality of the police and partook in a days-long rebellion in the streets of New York City.

They started a worldwide movement and march toward equality and justice for the LGBTQ community. Nowadays, though – what we call Pride is nothing more than a remnant of a remnant – a party without a purpose.

There are some groups who wish to reclaim the original meaning. For instance, far-left queers have protested police involvement in other cities around the country. While many police departments have embraced pride, let's not forget it took 50 years for the New York City Police Department to officially apologize for the raid. Closer to home in 1991 the Broward Sheriff’s Office raided the Copa nightclub, sparking a backlash against the then-Sheriff.

In the last few years, some major Pride festivals have disbanded due to various controversies surrounding a lack of inclusivity, like Boston Pride and Philly Pride Presents.

But there is no reclaiming Pride.

As long as we rely on corporations to fund these events, we will be forever be beholden to them. This is not a criticism, so much as a simple acknowledgement of reality.

One group, Queerbomb in Texas, launched in 2010 to “to push back against corporate-centric pride’s exclusionary rhetoric, lack of diversity, accessibility, and insistence on ‘family friendliness.’” I applaud their efforts.

Corporations had no hand in the Stonewall Riots, unless one counts manufacturing beer bottles and bricks. But they’re more than willing to capitalize on our dollars – when it’s convenient for them. As conservatives have pushed back on LGBTQ-friendly companies, we’ve seen some of our big corporate allies retreat, like Target removing Pride displays in some of their stores.

I am not suggesting we disband or discontinue our festivals.

But the word – the name – Stonewall still means something. Let’s keep it that way. Let’s retire the “Stonewall” from our festivals and events. It was a riot – not a party or celebration.

So while Pride has been lost to commercial excess – let’s preserve the significance of Stonewall. We can – and should – pay tribute and homage to the event that launched a worldwide movement for our rights. Let’s keep the rainbow Oreos for Pride, and reserve Stonewall for remembrance and revolutions.

The last couple of years we’ve seen our Pride festivals cancel their events, institute new rules, implement age restrictions and more, all to appease Gov. Ron DeSantis. Instead of fighting back, many festivals retreated in fear. It’s understandable because these organizations are just … parties. That’s their main focus. That’s their purpose. They’re meant to generate business, not controversy.

There’s nothing wrong with celebrations – but let’s not pretend these organizations are anything but that – anymore. These events serve as mini economic boosts in the cities that host them.

But are they pushing back against the hundreds of bills targeting our community year after year? Are they advancing our rights? In one word – no. Let’s not pretend otherwise.

Earlier this year, one leader of a major Pride festival said, “That’s not what our pride parade is about. It’s not a protest march, it’s a celebration.”

Unfortunately, he’s right. Pride has become a party. Not a protest.

Pride festivals are no longer revolutionary. We were once a community of radical faeries pushing against oppression and societal norms – now we’ve become a bunch of conformist cucks, losing the rebellious spirit that once defined us.

The irony is there has been more to protest in the last several years than in a couple of decades – yet there is little will to do so.

So have fun at the festival in Wilton Manors this weekend. But remember to pay homage to the origin of Pride. Remember, the only reason you’re celebrating today is because of LGBTQ individuals who were willing to put everything on the line for our rights yesterday.

While we may never return Pride to its roots, we can at least preserve the integrity of Stonewall. Let’s stop using the name and more appropriately call our festivals for what they are – parties.

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