The pain and the possibility of failed gay pride celebrations

The pain and the possibility of failed gay pride celebrations

These duel atmospheres make it clear that the pandemic has largely overturned Pride – exactly five decades after activists rallied on New York’s Christopher Street Liberation Day to commemorate the 1969 Stonewall riots. deep.

For 22-year-old Em Panetta (who is not binary and takes the nickname “they”), this June would mean a consequent moment: their first pride.

“Last year, starting last summer, was almost big for me, so this summer was supposed to be a really festive moment for me – a time to travel to New York (from the Philadelphia area) and be out with me. my community, instead of sitting on the sidelines like I’ve done in recent years, “Panetta told CNN.

Panetta continued: “Since Pride’s personal holidays have been interrupted, there has been a somewhat sad process. It’s just hard to know that you had almost that special experience. “

mourning. It’s an idea that Ethan Johnstone, 38, founder and community leader, came up with. Pride link, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the quality of life of LGBTQ people in the Upstate area of ​​South Carolina, also used the description of Pride’s absence this year.

“Pride gives me the opportunity to become my true self and get rid of worrying about whether I’m going to look at a particular way or respond to comments or harassment,” Johnston said. “The first pride I went to was in Spartanburg, after I came out as a trans. So, for me, it’s a fact based on authenticity.”

“I don’t have it this summer,” Johnston added. “It makes me feel like I’m missing out on a lot of the year – the excitement of getting ready and understanding what I’m going to wear and meet people.” There is a sadness that is missing from all this. “

He missed the political opportunity

Sometimes the season can be more obvious politically. It is not difficult to understand why: Although at the beginning of his term, President Donald Trump tried to find himself as the custodian of LGBT rights – “(I am) determined to protect the rights of all Americans, including the LGBT community.” he said in a January 2017 statement – his management was not friendly to this team.
ONE ProPublica 2019 Exhibition on the Trump administration’s history on LGBTQ issues “have found dozens of changes that represent a profound reshaping of the way the federal government treats more than 11 million American lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people.” These changes include reversing, withdrawing, repealing and withdrawing LGBTQ protection in areas ranging from employment and health care to criminal justice and public life.
“Pride is a key part of our policy approach,” said Kit Malone, 45, a lawyer and teacher at Indiana ACLU, he said. “That’s where we connect with other organizations. It’s where we connect with individual LGBTQ people who just want to know more about their rights.”
In places like Country of Mike Pence, honeycomb with conservatism, so that queer experiences often look different from those in more progressive pockets, the importance of Pride can be dramatically increased. Especially for those in small towns, a single month can bring this password of so many political rights movements to life: visibility.
“We are witnessing about 20 rural pride celebrations in Indiana. They go from a small potluck to a shelter in a park in Spencer Pride Festival, which has been featured in national news and attracts thousands of attendees from across the region, “said Malone (due to Covid-19, the festival was postponed). These gatherings help us identify queer people who may be unaffected, who may not have places where they can celebrate safely. ”
“When I think about the number of cancellations of pride,” Malone continued, “these are the people I’m thinking about – people who don’t live near a big city that may not have access. gay bar, which may suffer from higher levels of isolation. “
Away from hospitable environments, the simple presence of Pride can have political vigor. Nebula Todd Leslie, 71, was reflecting on the 1980s when he traveled with LGBTQ people on a trip to Florida, where he lives.
“I know it sounds silly today, but these kids, as I call them, had to have a lot of courage to do that,” Leslie said. “One year, I went to a group on a trip to Jacksonville, which is very conservative. We were in a park and there were a lot of people protesting our existence there. The children were nervous and uncomfortable – and they stayed that way Dykes on Bikes showed up. “(He said this last part with a warm laugh.)

As Leslie sees it, anything that can be taken away from you is political: “The core of Pride is the idea of ​​not taking things for granted that have won hard.”

Pride, redefined

Outdoor activities have been suspended. But this does not mean that the spirit of pride has been completely destroyed. As has become common during the pandemic, some holidays have moved on the internet – an imperfect stand-in, but what speaks of LGBTQ durability.
For example, in May, the New York City Pride announced that there would be three-day virtual transfer from June 19 to June 21, with more than 100 performers, including RuPaul’s Drag Race graduates. In addition, actor and co-creator of “Schitt’s Creek” Dan Levy will be one of the four grand marshals, and singer Janelle Monáe and actress “Pose” Billy Porter among the performers, for special broadcast June 28.

In particular, the pandemic forced another discussion on how to improve Pride’s observation.

Fifty years later, the event “turned out to be impossible to unravel from many of the most insidious aspects of consumption and capitalism,” writes the Northwestern University author and professor. Steven Thrasher tweeted in April, following announcements about the charming Pride.

“We need something new to address the labor, environmental, anti-racist and economic challenges of the LGBTQ people,” Thrasher said.

Over the decades, Pride’s critiques – how it tends to elevate only a narrow range of LGBTQ experiences, how it is filled with police – have inspired alternative celebrations.

After marking for years, DC Dyke March, first held in 1993 to embrace activism among queer women and emphasize its distinctive power embankment as a political signer, he returned last June. Not related to Pride. The goal is to “bring together trans people, queers, lesbians and other dyke identities” provided by the mainstream LGBTQ movement, as set out by Facebook for this year’s online gathering, Dykes Go Digital.
“When I think of Pride, I think a lot of Prides,” said Preston Mitchum, 34, a policy director at non-profit organizations based in Washington. URGE: Join for reproduction and gender equality, he told CNN. “We have Black Pride. We have Trans Pride. We have Youth Pride. It breaks my heart not to see the joy, the clothes, the friends. But because we can’t have them this summer, I hope people understand that companies don’t make Pride great. Communities do it. “
Indeed, this seems to be the community spirit some organizers take advantage of this as they recover the roots of the Pride activist to support the current Black Lives Matter protests against police violence.

Mitsum added: “Nothing good will come of a deadly pandemic that could have been avoided. At the same time, people have the opportunity to re-evaluate exactly what they need from their communities – and for themselves. They have the opportunity to dream differently. “

One way to think about pandemic is in terms of theft. In just a few months, it robs people: career, lives, pleasures that are small but also big. In all of this is a dark intimacy, especially for some. Being weird in America is about being familiar with a similar kind of loss, due to years of state crime and negligence.

However, being weird is also about knowing what might happen after this loss: kinship and connection that can overcome almost anything.

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