Pride: classy, white cissification at its finest.
A cross-cultural affair, Pride events offer a space to celebrate not only the LGBT community but body and sex positivity, including, but not limited to, nudist culture and sexual kinks. However, across these cultures the fact remains that the massive party known as Pride is very much a space for the white, the cisgender, and the class-privileged.
What about the rest of us?
For people of color, life during Pride is the exact same as life before and after the festivities. As Darnell Moore points out, the "times I felt ... invisible, and there were many, occurred when I showed up black and queer to white and gay and male-centered spaces." When I march the streets alongside my rainbow-blooded kinfolk, my black body, as Moore puts it, "doubly signifie[s] the center via its queerness and the edge by way of its racialization." In other words, at Pride I am still black first and queer later.
Sabrina Lee argues that "the entire concept of LGBT pride ... [is] meant to uphold solidarity, for the rest of us, who are still struggling. These pride events remind us that we hold a particular relevance in the world that refuses to be diminished no matter how minute our physical presence in our hometowns."
What happens when we are made to feel a particular irrelevancy in our presence at Pride? Furthermore, which struggling souls does Pride uphold solidarity with?
It is difficult to see camaraderie as my black cisgender brothers are reduced to a means of fulfilling a Mandingo fantasy, my same-gender-loving transgender sisters and brothers are ostracized from the larger gay and lesbian community, and my gender-noncomforming, queer-identified, and flamboyant peers are told that their existence is a hindrance to the social progress of the LGBT community.
Pride is not a safe space for this (boi). I do not march and party in solidarity. I march and party as the othered other, a black queer man of trans experience deemed too queer by a community invested in their own recognition.
As drag queens put on their heels, I am handed pamphlets regarding sexual practices that do not apply to my body. Dancing gym rats begin pulling off their shirts as I am invited to watch a panel of college graduates who have never been homeless discuss youth homelessness. By the time the parade starts, someone has made mention of their "no blacks" preference -- and their rule of exception if that "black" has a "big black [phallus]." Before the glitter has time to settle on the ground, I have heard the following at least four times: "You're super-hot! Let's hook up! Oh, you're trans? That's cool. You've had the surgery, right? No? Sorry, but I don't like girls."
I must ask again: Whom is Pride upholding solidarity with? Certainly not with me. And certainly not with the young homeless queers missing the festivities because they are too busy turning tricks at the pier in order to survive.
I feel no pride in this; I feel shame. Shame for presenting myself among a crowd of those who continually oppress me. Shame for thinking that my presence would challenge deeply rooted racism and cissexism, among other things. Shame for ever attempting to create solidarity in a space where I was merely being tolerated because cute, skinny black (bois) make events look more inclusive.
This is why I do not need Pride.
For some, pride does not manifest amidst crowds of leathered, glittered, and rainbowed white bodies. My pride does not manifest as I am misgendered and sexually harassed after donning daisy dukes in an attempt to boost my body confidence. My pride does not manifest in being silenced by gays who think my intersecting trans identity is unimportant.
For some, pride manifests as they navigate the real world. My pride manifests in the literal self-creation and reclamation of my name, my body, and my queer family. My pride manifests in my ability to love despite the hate. My pride manifests through my life and the work that I do. My pride is political. My pride is my life.