As a part of the LGBTQ+ community, one of the largest in-house crimes you can commit is hating on Pride. There is this preconceived notion that Pride is something that is ours, and hating on it is equivalent to hating on every single one of us. Here’s the thing, though: no matter where you go, how you celebrate, or who you’re with during the event of Pride, it’s hard to attend and still feel like it’s ours. Big businesses and “support groups” have stolen it from us in the name of corporate profit. Not to mention the abundant crowds of straight people hijacking our day of Pride for an excuse to binge and party, all under the illusion of acceptance.
No. We see right through you – and yes, we’re bitter.
The Pleasure is Theirs
I had the pleasure of attending Dallas Pride this year, but what I saw with my semi-sober eyes was disturbing and shocking. I don’t know if it’s because I’m older and wiser, or the fact that I actually took the time this year to notice what was happening around me, beneath the booze-filled tents. Either way, something seemed off and unsettling. I realized Pride is no longer something I can see as progressive or even supportive of the community I’m so proud to be a part of. Instead, it’s something people have sucked dry of actual pride in order to take advantage of us while we’re in such a vulnerable state. And we’re letting them do it.
Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is
It’s not a surprise that in order to make this parade work big businesses have to be apart of it to gather donations. Coming from a city standpoint, shutting down streets is extremely expensive, and everything requires a large budget. However, that should not mean the entire parade should be turned into a giant corporate commercial where businesses think having their two LGBTQ+ community employees parading in rainbow colors means they’re inclusive and progressive. I don’t want beads, tiny footballs, or even shirts with your company logo on them in rainbow colors.
I want proof that you’re trying to help our community in ways the majority of us can’t, because we don’t have the resources that are so easily accessible to you. After all, isn’t the definition of corporate sponsorship in fact sponsoring the group you claim to be supporting? I want you to parade around informing us on who you’re endorsing for president this year. I want you to parade around and tell me what you’re doing in order to support same-sex couple adoption. I want you to parade around and tell me what you’re doing with your offices in North Carolina in response to their new horrendous anti-lgbt laws. I want you to parade around and tell me that the health care benefits you provide for your employees includes the portions that are prevalent to the survival and well being of my trans brothers and sisters. I want to know what you’re doing in order to support my community.
I don’t appreciate you using this day, our day, in order to gain my community as another consumer bracket in your financial business plan for the upcoming year. My community is not a bullet point you can cross off your list. My community is full of people with basic human rights that are not protected by the government, and if you want my financial support for your business, it’s your job to tell me what you’re doing as a company to make progress. It’s offensive and belittling to the people who identify as LGBTQ+ to think we would support you based off of your attendance in the pride parade alone.
My community is woke af.
We know there is more important things than money, like the people – us – this damn parade is trying to celebrate in the first place.
You Can’t Sit With Us (If You Can’t Stand For Us)
On top of the unsettling corporate presence at this year’s Pride, I couldn’t help but notice the amount of groups that appeared to have little to no LGBTQ+ presence within them. I’m the last person to forbid straight people from entering our safe haven of the Dallas gayborhood, but some of your groups were there strictly to gawk at us like we’re zoo animals instead of joining in, celebrating, and being prideful of who we are as people. For myself, and many others, the gayborhood is a place I can go to be accepted and accepting of others, but the majority of this year’s pride was full of people using the community as entertainment. Pride has become a day where people who don’t identify as a LGBTQ+ member tailgate all morning, pass out before the parade starts, and leave without a damn progressive action taken place for the entire day. Not even a progressive thought crossing the minds of the majority of people present. Tell me, how is that prideful? How can nothing important go down, and we call it pride?
I’m to the point in my life where actions speak louder than words, because I’ve seen how talk is cheap and people who talk a big game never put in any actions to back their words up. Pride has become one long monologue of how the people around us and the companies we use on a daily basis love us and support us, yet after the parade is over, they all go home, and there’s no talk of action until planning for the float or tailgate starts for the next year. These people are using our day as an extension of their binge weekend. They talk the talk to earn their ticket in, but almost immediately forget about us as soon as they drunkenly stumble their way back home.
We are people. This day is supposed to be ours to show pride in progress – but it’s being taken away, just like every other day of the year.
Because the truth is: we are unprotected people.
From the Inside-Out
Despite all my misgivings for those trying to rain on our parade from the outside – I’m disappointed in my fellow community members. I understand wanting to use Pride as the one day you want to forget about the responsibilities towards your community, but Pride should be the one day where you think about it the most. I’m not saying don’t go out and have fun. Dress up, pour up, and veg out. But as a community, we have obligations to ourselves and fellow members to understand that our struggles are not all summed up during one big party on the strip. Especially not a party that leaves our home in shambles. I shouldn’t have to walk through streets filled with trash in order to leave the parade grounds. The gayborhood is our place. It’s where we feel the safest and most free to be ourselves, yet during the biggest celebration of our queerness of the year we trash that very same safe place. Literal rivers of garbage covered our sanctuary as I was trying to retreat back to my car, and I was hard-pressed to find anyone upset about it. This alone as a community member should make your blood boil even without the corporate or straight influence on our Pride.
We as a community have got to care more. We have got to have more respect for ourselves, more pride in our home, than simply showing up for a mindless party of binge-drinking and mass littering – only to leave without a second thought for the impact of our actions. How can we expect others to respect our safe places when we can’t even respect them ourselves?
Something to Have Pride In
I don’t know why this year was so different for me than it has been in the past. I, like everyone else, have given into the decked out in rainbow and getting drunk on the Cedar Springs strip during pride shenanigans – yet here I am with a growing sense of regret. Pride to me is progressive. Pride to me is jumping into action in order to protect and care for the ones that I love. Pride to me is not the parade, but rather, the things that happen throughout the year that change the way people look at us as a whole. It’s a celebration of victory, and that’s certainly intoxicating – yet, it is also a sobering realization of all the fighting we still have ahead of us. Our fight is not over until there are no restrictions on our private lives based strictly on the fact of how we identify as people, or who we love. That does not only include the United States; this is a world-wide fight that we must never forget about, or retreat from.
Pride is not leaving the strip we all love in absolute trash-filled disarray, because we’re so drunk we have to be shaken awake by police officers. Pride is not screaming for free things during the constant onslaught of corporations who have never showed us what they’re doing in order to help our community.
Pride is not what I experienced this last Sunday.
I’m disappointed. I think so highly of this community, and being let down in such a large fashion hurts me to my core. I still love you, and I am still proud to be apart of you. The amount of love in my heart for you people is ridiculous, and that’s why I can no longer keep my mouth shut. We can do better. We have to do better.
Pride needs to be something we can be proud of again.