Critiques of Pride

Oooooh boy.

So, Lancaster reached a milestone last year in that not only did we have a Pride Parade we also had an alternative Pride.

Pride is more than just the Parade, the Parade is important, I can’t explain exactly what it is that makes me so happy that we get to walk down the street and be acknowledged as ourselves but its certainly something that I feel lacking when I realise that I’m doing it at Pride.

However, there’s also something about walking past pubs and bars that have the rainbow flag hanging out of them that threw me and my friends out a decade or two ago and it’s the feeling that things have changed – that’s good. It’s less good when you overhear baby gays saying they got thrown out a day or two ago and the pubs and bars are rainbow-washing.

There’s this feeling that the Parade needs to be a good show and that if the Queers can’t do it then we need to hire in some people to Entertain the Straights, yes we need to get the money together to keep going but just like it sets my teeth on edge when Canal Street is used as a tourist destination the Pride Parade isn’t about Entertaining the Straights it’s about being Authentically Us.

Then there’s who gets included. I think that every aspect of the community that has the quiltbag involved in it (and that should be every aspect) should be allowed to be in the Parade. That includes the police. Because there are gay people in the police.

But we as the Quiltbag need to hold these organisations to account. If Barclays Bank aren’t hiring quiltbag members then they shouldn’t be in the Parade or advertising at other Pride venues.
If the Police are beating up gay guys in a town then that town’s Pride can’t let them in the Parade.

We are so grateful sometimes that ‘They’ are letting us be Queer on ‘Their’ streets that we forget to hold some of the people who want to march with us to a high standard. I get blown away myself by seeing all the rainbows in the windows and thinking that they really want us rather than they’re just virtue signalling. Pride isn’t about the headline acts, it’s about Us and we need to keep our feet on the ground and remember that.

2 thoughts on “Critiques of Pride

  1. About once a month, someone with a mental illness dies in police custody. I read all the coroner’s reports, going back about fifteen years now.
    Most of those deaths are people with schizophrenia, when we are about 1% of the population. Most of them die in very similar ways, the same things which keep coming up in ‘lessons learned’ reports, but never change. I get arrested a few times a year for ‘being confused in public’ (s136 MHA), and I’ve had those same things which keep coming up in coroner’s reports done to me, and believed I was going to die. It affects everything, every day – I buy clothes thinking about whether the cops will treat me like a human being or a threat if I get arrested wearing them. Lockdown has been the first time I’ve dyed my hair, for the same reason.
    While police are welcome at Pride, I am not. LGBTQ+ cops can quit their jobs, I can’t.
    In York, I went to lay flowers a few weeks ago outside the police cells on the anniversary of the death of a mentally ill woman in those cells, and there was a Pride flag flying right above the cells where she died. There’s a Pride themed caged van. People regularly die in vans like that. Rainbow guilt wipes. The police clear the streets of homeless people before Pride.
    If the shitty GRA thing goes through, maybe next year the police will be at Pride to check people’s birth certificate before they can use the toilets. Would that be more of a problem to you than them killing people like me?
    Police at Pride are like if the Mumsnet TERFs were officially given a place of honour to march in uniform – if the Mumsnet TERFs were bundling a trans person into the back of a van and killing them every few weeks, if they were being allowed to march with the weapons they routinely used against trans people.
    You can say that’s unfair because Pride isn’t about the human rights of people with schizophrenia, but if it’s worth changing things for 1% of people then it is damn well worth changing things for my 1% too, and LGBTQ+ people with schizophrenia exist and should be able to be part of Pride too, however much the ‘queer community’ would like to think we don’t exist. I see Pride flags, I expect worse attitudes toward severe mental illness than elsewhere, and this has got much worse in recent years, not better.
    If Pride want to loudly declare that they are only for people who the police aren’t a threat to, they should carry on as they are, welcoming and cooperating with the police and having them be an official part of the event.
    Pride could choose to stand with the socially excluded, with the homeless people who are being ‘moved on’ before the parade, with Black people, with the people the British police keep on killing. Or they can welcome cops. Pride cannot do both.
    The ‘queer community’ seems to be firmly decided which side to come down on, and it’s not mine. This is shit. Everyone deserves human rights, but it’s soul destroying to keep arguing for the human rights of people who want to get cosy with the arm of the state which systematically kills people like me.

  2. I did say that organisations wanting to march with us should be held to a high standard.
    I admit the example I then gave was them beating up gay guys, mostly because that’s the thing that my brain, focussing on quiltbag and the police first came up with.

    There’s a few things intersecting here, lack of singular structures, respectability politics, social capital and political capital.

    First, in order to exist Pride needs to work within current social structures and I do believe that Pride, especially the parade, needs to exist. We need to be visible to combat underlying prejudices. Prides are notoriously bad at being accessible and that needs to get better.
    That leads me into the next thing, Pride isn’t one organisation there are individual local groups and there are local police forces too. (I’d be very uncomfortable marching beside Essex police for example.)

    Depending on local council rules on how parades work the parades are going to need to have the police do whatever the council rules are on preparing for the parade. Clearing the homeless out is sickening but I’m not sure you can blame the parade for the local council rules? You can blame the local police force for how it enforces it. Could the local Pride organisers push back on this issue?

    Ok so now we’ve come onto Respectability politics and social and political capital and the reasons that Alternative Prides have begun to be more common. Before this year I didn’t understand why we (the queer community) didn’t push our social and political capital more to stand with the socially excluded. This year I’ve had an uncomfortable glimpse at how tenuous that capital is. Maybe we don’t have the power to stand as you suggest we do and I thought we could.
    However, if Pride is becoming mainstream in more than just a rainbow washing way, then in order to hold people to account there needs to be the idea that if they got their act together then they could be in the parade.
    A space where the police aren’t and a reason why.

    There’s a lot of Pride that is about being so grateful we’re ‘here’ playing at being Respectable that we’re scared to rock the Straight boat and that’s the basic root of most of the problems we both have with Pride.

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