My Struggle With Pride In 2017: How privilege got us here.

Last time I made a blog it was full of hope. It was full of Pride.

I spoke of how we as a community have moved forward in leaps and bounds, how we are seeing a light at the end of the tunnel of erasure and invisibility to find a new world that can only get better.

I miss that feeling, it was euphoric, a swell in my sense of Pride and togetherness.

Unfortunately, Pride in Columbus OH happened on June 17th 2017.

On that day, a small group of people stood bravely in front of the enormous Pride parade and asked for 7 minutes of silence and reflection on the continued erasure of People of Color, transgender people. By most accounts the parade was willing to do so, but then the police appeared. Not even a minute had gone by when police men and women can be seen pushing and forcing the protestors back, using their police bikes as a sort of  mobile barricade. The person filming this brutality can be heard screaming “Don’t you touch them” over and over, but above that was the cheers of the parade’s bystanders.

The very people who have come to Pride to celebrate diversity, to commemorate the Stonewall riots, were the very people who cheered to see the same sort of police brutality that began our movement. I am stunned and angered that people don’t understand that they have betrayed their very cause by allowing this violence on their own people to occur.

The protestors, known as the Black Pride 4 were arrested after being assaulted and maced by police. Almost immediately (I say almost because news sources were suspiciously slow on reporting it) there were reports of officers being injured, and some murky report of one of the protestors stealing something. It wasn’t until you actually searched for first hand accounts and videos that a new picture emerged. I wish that lines at theme parks were as efficient as the smear campaigns against protests, because almost immediately they were painted as hooligans interrupting a sacred event.

I see that wide eyed love of Pride from last week and I’m sickened. Sickened that I was able to think for a moment that things have gotten better. I was so desperately wrong, that I’ve felt a terrible shift in my thoughts and feelings toward our community.

I have seen LGBTQ+ people adopt the vocabulary of the oppressor over and over again. I have seen people who have shown support of the Black Lives Matter movement turn around and use the same logic against Queer PoC.

“This wasn’t the place.”

“Maybe if they had protested differently.”

“I have trans friends and they don’t seem to have trouble.”

“I saw PoC at the parade, they looked welcome.”

I have witnesses straight people rage against the protestors, believing that these people were attacking the rights of their LGBTQ allies. Not once stopping to think that maybe the protestors had a point, and that they are coming from a place where *all* non-heteronormative people have equality.

How can we look at our history, of the history of any and all groups who have been oppressed and not see the correlation between their struggle, their protest and what happened this weekend?

They have been accused of “dividing the community,” but let me tell you now. The community is already divided, and it is being divided by those who refuse to listen to those who are standing up and speaking to us.

We like to think we’re progressive, we like to fly that rainbow flag and say that we defend diversity. But we’re just like everyone else. Racist, transphobic and sexist.

We prize the built white man, we airbrush them and photoshop them into impossible gods and we paste them over pride flags with Native American headdresses. We say “masc4masc,” and “no rice” or “no spice.” We tip the drag queen then flip by their profile on our hook up apps. We invite police to our spaces and ignore the violence and sexual assault that our PoC peers that the police bring them.

Where is Stonewall and other large LGBTQ organizations when there are Black Lives Matter rallies? Where was the support for the protestors who are trying to tell us that there is a problem and they need our help? Where is the anger that these people, our people have been arrested and charged with various crimes for legally and peacefully protesting?

This entire time I have been fluctuating between anger and sadness. I most certainly have these feelings for those oppressing us, the trash in political office, the police who extend the militarized arm of white supremacy to our communities, but that’s not new.
What is new is feeling like our allies have turned on us.

To see a white lesbian couple on camera cheering as young queer protestors are maced.

To hear a gay cis man tell me that they should’ve tried to protest in more legal ways.

To see a gay man offer the fact that there are PoC at Pride as evidence that there is no racism in our community.

To see another gay man specifically thank the police for protecting “us.”

It shows me that not only do we have a lot of work to do, but that we’re still using our privilege to ignore that there even is a problem. It shows me that, right now, and until we can even admit that there’s rampant racism and transphobia in our community, we are our own worst enemy.

For a bit more information, please go to the following links:

https://rewire.news/article/2017/06/21/ten-myths-nojusticenopride/

The defense fund for the blackpride4 can be found at:

http://ow.ly/cRdZ30cMw1z

Additionally, if you’re going to ComFest, please check this out:

https://www.facebook.com/events/462263674126906/

Please let me know if there are any further links or resources I can provide.

And be safe, everyone.

 

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