Thursday, April 22, 2010

From Protest March to Lavish Parades: Has Pride Lost its Meaning?

Since the passing and subsequent upholding of California's Proposition 8, a renewed sense of grass roots activism has swept the LGBT Community across the nation and around the world. The National March on Washington last fall drew roughly 200,000 LGBT Americans from all over the U.S. to the nation's capital to demand that our leaders take action in securing full and equal protection under the law for our community. People came home from the march with a renewed sense of purpose and energy.
As Pride season quickly approaches, there is a move underway to re-infuse a sense of political action to the annual parades, festivals and parties. The group, Take Back Pride has issued an open letter to the LGBT Community calling for a return to our movement's activist roots.

The letter states, in part, "The organizers of Pride Marches around the country work tirelessly over the course of the year to bring us the most inclusive marches and celebrations in the world. We want to help those organizers by working with them to implement plans for education and protest within our marches."

This year there will be another mini-march of sorts at Pride in the Park in September. I encourage you all to take part in the march and to bring your protest signs and/or banners and wear your protest t-shirts calling for action from our elected officials.

We should never forget that the first "Pride Parades" were actually "Gay Liberation" protests held in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco, on June 29, 1970 to mark the first anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. They were political demonstrations against discriminatory laws that have cost our community our jobs, our families, our homes and our dignity.

In the 40 years since those first marches, we can still lose our jobs in 29 states -- including Virginia -- just for being who we are. We still cannot serve our country openly in the U.S. military. Our families are denied full legal recognition and protection.

So this year, whether you travel to another city for Pride and/or when you turn out here in Roanoke this September, bring the spirit of Stonewall with you. Have a great time, but never forget, that it's not about being fabulous, it's about fighting for your rights. Following is the full text of the letter from For the sake of space I have included only a few of the 60+ activists, bloggers and others who have cosigned the letter:
Dear Members of the LGBTQ Community, Our Allies and Community Partners,
While last year we celebrated the 40th Anniversary of our liberation at Stonewall on the last Sunday of June in 1969, we are celebrating another anniversary in 2010. And we need to do it right.
On the last Sunday in June 1970, Gay Liberation Front and Gay Activists Alliance, in commemoration of the Stonewall riots, staged the first “Gay Liberation Day March.” Organizers in Los Angeles and San Francisco also held marches that day.
We have much to celebrate. As a community we have struggled and fought for our very lives. Together, we have accomplished what at one time was a fantasy at best. Our sexual liberation has been celebrated every year now for 40 years with what was once a march and is now a parade, in the streets of New York and dozens of other cities across the country and the world.
This year, in light of the major battles we have ahead of us, we are asking for all of you to join us in taking back pride. While we have so much to be proud of in what we have accomplished as a community, this fight is far from over. We want our community to not only remember those who have fought and died before us, but to forge ahead in the struggle -- so that our children may one day live truly free and equal lives in this country.
The organizers of Pride Marches around the country work tirelessly over the course of the year to bring us the most inclusive marches and celebrations in the world. We want to help those organizers by working with them to implement plans for education and protest within our marches.
We know that our community is made up of every race, creed, religious affiliation and political background imaginable. We come from everywhere, from Africa to New Zealand. We represent Conservatives and Socialists. We are made up of Catholics and Buddhists alike. The time has come to embrace our ideals and differences and remember that what we have in common as a community - is our strength.
For Pride 2010, we ask that organizers and participants of marches around this great country take this opportunity to be heard. Yell. Scream. Chant. Wear your chaps and thongs, but carry a sign while you do it. Put on your most sequined ball gown, but shout for your rights as you flaunt your fabulousness. The sheer number of people who turn out in the streets this June will send a clear message around the world that we are not content with what we have. We are somebody. We deserve full equality.
If you’re marching with a group, ask your group what they are angry about. It could be Marriage Inequality, or Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. It could be that in 31 states, you can still be fired for being gay (see the “What Are You Angry About” section of the Take Back Pride page.)
We owe it to our community and to those young gay people who are still afraid to say who they are to TAKE BACK PRIDE. Make your signs. Create your chants. It’s time for us all to remember this is a march, not a parade. This is OUR celebration of who we are and it has the potential to once again be something we are ALL truly proud of.
On Tuesday, May 11th in New York City, we will be having a community town hall discussion about what we can do to Take Back Pride. We encourage all groups participating in Pride to take part. And for those of you outside New York, the meeting will be posted on YouTube. You may also visit to see how YOU can help Take Back Pride.
Jamie McGonnigal,
Lt. Dan Choi, U.S. National Guard
Alan Bounville, Member-Queer Rising, New York
Robin McGehee, GetEQUAL
Wayne Besen, Founder & Executive Director Truth Wins Out

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1 comment:

  1. Thanks (again) Steve for another important story. In my mind it has to do with the full recognition that we have a long ways to go in our struggle for some very basic civil rights.If you are GLBTQIA....and you are "content" with where we are....if you are "embarrassed" by what some activists are doing(civil disobedience..)....if you are thinking we need to just "wait patiently" for another crumb to fall from the table...if you think all is well since there are no bricks flying through your window...if you think passionate activists fighting for our right to marry are crazy--because you don't want to get married anyways...???? Hello...are you living passionately, or existing complacently as less than....and do you care about all those who did care over the last half century and courageously tried to make things better..for those coming after them...for us ??


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