HISTORY OF PRIDE
Pride started as a protest against police harassment towards the LGBTQ+ community, in New York City (NYC). The origin of pride is the famous “Stonewall riots” in reference to Stonewall Inn where the uprising happened on June 28, 1969, in NYC. At this period, homosexual relations were only legal in Illinois, USA. Uprising took place after the police raided an LGBTQ+ bar mostly visited by people of colour without any valid reason. A trans woman (the exact identity is still debated) threw a glass at the police which paved the four nights of riots. One year later, the first pride started from Stonewall. These first “prides” were no parties but protests of resistance initially led by the black and Latinx LGBTQ+ community, particularly the trans community. While rights and protections for queer people have been secured in some places, however, there is still a lot to do in terms of LGBTQ+ rights. Therefore, pride is a protest against oppression, but also police violence.
Pride is a protest for LGBTQ+ rights, human rights, not a huge advertisement using the rainbow flag. The instrumentalisation of LGBTQ+ fights to make a profit is a real problem. This is called rainbow capitalism and rainbow washing when big companies use activism to sell, it romanticises the fight and undermines people’s demands. It gives the idea that LGBTQ+ people’s situation is changing because rainbows appear everywhere during pride month but in reality, many companies promote pride for their own image which makes Queer activism invisible.
Furthermore, capitalism as a system based on exploitation has produced and reproduced heteronormative gender roles, ‘traditional’ family ideals and perpetuated the Queer people’s oppression. This goes from the economic convenience of romantic familiar partnerships, the reproduction of the working class, the repression of gender and sexual exploration – that has caused the exclusion and alienation of nonconforming people. Capitalism cannot be a tool to fight for the Queer cause.
The capitalisation of queer activism is also the reason why people of colour and trans people are left aside when discussing pride because companies will use what sells within the LGBTQ+ community alias white rich cis gay men.
Because LGBTQ+ people are diverse and do not all face the same challenges, Pride is a protest that should be fought for by all Queer people. As a result, intersectionality is essential in the battle for LGBTQ+ rights. Within the Queer community, many other factors than discrimination against LGBTQ+ people must be pointed out. White Queer privilege is a problem because the LGBTQ+ community is not immune to racism, colonialism, anti-semitism or Islamophobia.
As an example of how White queer folks benefit from white supremacy when they were fighting for marriage equality, Black queer people were still struggling for survival. This isn’t to suggest that marriage equality isn’t vital, but it’s far from the only issue at hand.
Although nowadays LGBTQ+ friendliness has been associated with ‘Western modernism’, queerness is not a Western concept. Non-Western countries are not essentially LGBTQ-phobic. For instance, the Ottoman empire had decriminalised homosexuality in 1858 and some writers from the Middle East were writing about homosexuality a long time ago already. In fact, colonialism had a big impact in bringing an anti-LGBTQ+ sentiment in former colonies. First, because they brought the criminalisation of homosexuality. Secondly, Western powers also brought a very binary understanding of sexuality and gender which was more fluid before colonialism. Furthermore, Western countries cannot pretend to be super LGBTQ+ friendly and in opposition to non-western countries and then ignore LGBTQ+ refugees.
Pride is a protest, however, it shouldn’t undermine people with disabilities and make sure that it is accessible and safe for disabled people, which is often not the case. Pride should include all members of its community, and not exclusively the able-bodied LGBTQ+ folks. Involving all members of the pride community in the organisation as well as making all of these voices heard is necessary to succeed in the fight for equal rights.