Since the 1980s, the LGBTQ community has celebrated Pride Month, a celebration of queer identity and queer liberation. However, in recent years, it has become far more sanitized.
The queer liberation movement began when the first bricks and punches were thrown at the Stonewall Riots in the 60s. The queer community has fought long and hard for their spot at the table. Like many minorities in America, the sanitized society of white, straight, Christian America gets in the way of this. It separates us into categories: the “normal” Americans and the “others.” Even in our American society that has made much progress, this mindset can persist. As a queer person, one often hears the phrase, “They’re one of the good ones.” This of course applies to other minorities as well but as a queer person, it has a particular sting. The sting comes from the internalized homophobia pervasive in American society. Everywhere we turn, queer people are told that there are only two genders and that straight is the default. However, the reality is far from this straight ideal.
Pride marches initially started as a way to celebrate queer identity and liberation, as well fight back against societal pressures to be normal and the AIDS epidemic. However, as the years went on, it slowly morphed into something of a spectacle for straight people to enjoy as well as LGBTQ people. Even though cops were the reason there needed to be a first Pride at Stonewall in the first place, consistently gay cops are allowed to march in uniform. This is especially unnerving for black and brown LGBTQ Americans because of the harsh treatment at the hands of the police they often suffer. Corporations have invaded Pride marches while simultaneously giving money to anti-LGBTQ politicians and writers of legislation. Straight people often don’t see the issue with cops at Pride or “rainbow capitalism” as it’s now called. The reality is these changes in Pride as well as the attitude of normality at Pride marches and events is the effect that “assimilation,” or the desire for minorities to simply blend into American culture and society rather than preserve their own culture, creates.
I’ll state it plainly: Pride Month is not for straight cisgender people. They don’t need a straight cisgender pride. Straight people aren’t being kicked out of their homes as minors for being gay. Straight people aren’t murdered for their sexuality or gender identity and then given no justice because their killer used the “gay/trans panic” defense. There are only 20 states that afford full discrimination protection to LGBTQ individuals in employment and housing. That’s an abysmal percentage of the country that stands for liberty and justice for all.
Pride most importantly is about giving queer people a space to exist fully and authentically. They often don’t have a space to do so to the fullest degree outside of Pride. The various fringes of the LGBTQ community that often don’t get enough mainstream recognition such as nonbinary individuals deserve this fundamental space where they get to be themselves. Until the whole of society can join us in reality, and yes “allies” need to do the work too, queer people need this vital space free of cisgender heterosexual contamination.