Post the Seventeenth or Dismantling Power Part I

The past few weeks have been an intense lesson in power and how it manifests. In many ways, this lesson is much more intimate and closer to home than the other daily subtle lessons in power for reasons I will mention later. Two events stand out in my mind. This post will address the first, stay tuned for the next one.

The first was Pride. The Pride parade was itself fun. We had kick ass young people and amazing volunteers and staff there. We had a phoenix puppet and a banner and I was equipped with a bull horn. We marched, we chanted, we rabble roused. There are three reasons, however, why that morning was a lesson in power. The first was the spectators, the second was the corporate sponsors and the third was the lack of people of color. The Pride parade was originally intended to be a celebration of queerness. It was to fly in the face of all the heteronormative institutions. It was one huge middle finger to heteronormative and cisnormative society because it said that we would not conform. It said that we would live out loud and that we demanded acceptance and celebration of our identities. And it was filled with trannies, people of color and poor people. Back then there were no spectators and no corporate sponsors.

The fact that there are now straight and queer people watching from the sidelines is very telling. It tells me that for many of those people, whether consciously or unconsciously, the battle is already won. We have assimilated into mainstream hetero culture. It tells me that they have accepted the privilege of heteronormative culture. To them, Pride isn’t about rejecting heteronormativity and class privilege. To them it is about showing het culture that we are “just like them.” It is about acceptance through assimilation.

The fact that there were corporate floats and corporate sponsors and the fact that you have to pay to get into the parade (and festival) shows me that our community has been in many ways transformed into a commodity. We are a community to market to and because of that there is a media illusion that most queer, or rather gay, people are affluent. Again, Pride isn’t a celebration of our myriad identities but rather an event where corporations can sell shit to middle-upper class white folks. Pride has become the biggest symbol of queer assimilation.

Not only were there a preponderance of corporate sponsors but there was also a dearth of people of color. This speaks to me the most because it says that in many ways we have forgotten or failed to take into account the intersectionality of identity and we fail to stand in solidarity with people of color. The fact that there were very few people of color and organizations of color marching in the Parade highlights the fact that Pride is not about queer culture but rather about white heteronormative culture that includes gay people. It perpetuates the illusion that the only gay people that exist are white. By not be people of color inclusive Pride perpetuates racism and classism which in turn supports heteronormativity and queer and transphobia.

You might at this point be asking what this has to do with dismantling power and I would argue that if we are going to dismantle power, if we are going to make a world that is truly equitable for all we need to recognize the privilege of those sitting on the sidelines. The very fact that they can is indicative of the kind of privilege that runs rampant in the gay community. And it is that privilege that keeps the status quo in place and keeps progress from happening.

In the struggle for liberation, there can be no spectators.

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About witchymorgan

I'm a 22 year old womanist, sex positive, pansexual, polyamorous, queer, bruja, transwoman. Social justice activist by day, social justice activist by night. Fun! View all posts by witchymorgan

3 responses to “Post the Seventeenth or Dismantling Power Part I

  • Ryan

    With all respect to your opinions, I have to politely disagree with you. PRIDE has gotten a hell of a lot better in my opinion. Back in the day, yes, PRIDE was “one huge middle finger to heteronormative and cisnormative society.” But hasn’t equality been the goal all along? Are we gay so we can stand out and draw attention to ourselves? No. We’re who we are because we were born that way. Straight people were born the way they are, just like us. But do they have parades and marches to say “fuck you fags” No, majority of heterosexuals don’t. And no, you can’t count Christians, they no longer represent the majority. Do you realize that our only hope for equality is in the hands of voters, who the majority of which are straight? I’m not saying don’t express yourself, but why highlight your differences when you want someone to see you as an equal? Being gay isn’t my identity. Small town boy, sports fan, sushi junkie, animal lover, food enthusiast , mall employee, vodka lover, supporter of marijuana legalization, Christian, white, and I just so happen to be gay . Homo isn’t my identity. Ryan is. It’s a huge part of who I am, but at the same time, there is so much more to me, that to focus on being gay, is denying myself the rest of myself. Also, any one who has ever worked in sales knows, people are more likely to buy things from people they feel they can relate to. How are we going to sell equality to straight people, when all we focus on is being gay? They can’t relate to that. I don’t know about you, but I just want to live a normal life…If you like the attention, maybe consider a career as a Vegas showgirl or a stripper.

    I think the only thing I agree with you on, is “In the struggle for liberation, there can be no spectators.”

    • witchymorgan

      Equity is the goal, not equality. Assimilating into heteronormative culture isn’t the road to equity because it requires a denial and refusal of being queer. It requires that queer culture be destroyed and consumed by hetero culture. It invalidates a complete set of experiences. The fact of the matter is being queer or trans IS different from being straight because of the privileges that being straight affords. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with being different or emphasizing that difference. The only reason I’m not “equal” when I emphasize my difference is because of the systemic forms of oppression that keeps queer and trans people oppressed. My identity is considered inferior to straight and cisgender identities and covering up or de-emphasizing those identities won’t lead to equality/equity. The trick is instead to raise the consciousness of everyone to prize all differences and celebrate all of them. They don’t have to understand queer experience to celebrate it. We can’t give the fight for equity to the hands of our oppressors. They are never going to give it to us.

      You are certainly free to lead any life you choose but being out and queer has nothing to do with attention seeking but rather everything to do with creating a fully equitable world.

      PS The reason straight people don’t have straight people parades is because they are the natural setting. One has to specifically state that one is queer because otherwise everyone assumes that you are straight. Being straight is the dominant identity and so there is no need to have a straight pride parade because essentially everyday is a straight pride parade.

  • Ryan

    Extremely well said! You’ve most certainly made me want to just walk around with a giant rainbow flag 😀

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