It's San Francisco Pride weekend, and I'm a little vexed that I won't be there. Some years I go to the parade, some years I don't. My favourite part—except of course for the dykes on bikes, everyone's favourite part—is the local politicians in the antique cars smiling and waving at the crowd.
Damn right. In my town you'd better show up. You'd better be happy to be there.
Synesis, talking about Pride London, puts his finger on a certain ambivalence I feel about the whole event.
There's a lot to hate about Pride. I loathe the insincere corporate presences, particularly the presence of the police and other authorities as some sort of placatory talisman; they're sort of madly grinning, dancing precipitously on a knife edge over a vast abyss of prejudice, pretending it doesn't exist. I hate how easily Pride went running after corporate sponsorship, how affably it integrated itself into the corporate model of overpriced alcoholic hedonism, how any sense of injustice and anger has been gradually effaced by fake tan and peroxide. Most of all — overwhelmingly — I hate the witless grinning parade of dancing boys and drag queens, the sense of being performing monkeys penned in for the ungracious gawping of heterosexual masses.
But then he goes on to explain why he goes anyway. It's one of the big reasons why I love the City, and love it a little extra that time of year.
It matters because visibility is a good thing.
It says that forty years ago, you would have told us to be discreet, marry ourselves off, mortgage away our capacity to love under a veil of shame. Fuck you. We're here, we're queer. That's the fundamental affirmation that needs to be made. It's not enough to hide us away. We will dance down the street in our tacky, tasteless grandeur, because it's an inescapable assertion of our simple *presence*. It doesn't matter if it's hollow or makes me roll my eyes. We're here and we demand our rights, and we're going to keep wearing the sequins and the ridiculous outfits until you realise that there's a massive well of prejudice, of centuries and centuries of hatred, underneath our feet and it's up to you to change it and it's up to me to change it. So I'll bite my tongue and join the marches, because to do otherwise would be an abdication of my community, of my family.
I'm just another straight guy, mind you, so I won't claim a share of that “we.” But in a different sense: my community, my family? Absolutely. And proud to say it.