Community Not Commodity is the point we're driving home at San Francisco Pride next Sunday. For those of us who remember early Gay Pride Marches and indeed feeling proud, today's extravaganzas look and sound like the Vegas chamber of commerce crashed your family reunion.
This year a loose coalition of queer groups has been planning our response to the corporate siege of the 'Gay Community'. We've come together to remind everyone that we're a movement, not a market. Join me after the orange squigglet as we veer off the yellow brick road. And if you're in San Francisco for Pride, join me on Market Street...
Another wonderful outcome of OWS is how its energy has sparked existing activist groups. Say what you will about the various Occupy groups around the world, you cannot deny the continuing influence of "we are the 99%". Add to that the reboot of ACTUP San Francisco and a panel discussion of Sarah Schulman's Gentrification of the Mind that packed the house with radical queers, the time was right to address 'pink washing' and how Pink became (p)inc. From our flier:
The Pride celebration has become increasingly commercialized, co-opted by corporate interests seeking to use our struggle for human rights as a market for their profit; a bloc for their status quo candidates and parties; or supporting gay rights as a mask of progressiveness while with the other hand they marginalize the poor and disempowered.While it seems like 'gay' is well on its way to acceptance into the corporate mainstream, there have long been critics of that mainstream, critics who clearly saw elements of the queer spectrum abandoned in the rush to get a seat at the table. How many times have you heard someone complain that "the tv cameras always focus on the drag queens?" Ironic considering that drag queens and hustlers were the ones rioting at Stonewall in 1969, and before that at the the Compton Cafeteria in 1966.
In doing so (corporate interests) would divide our community, catering only to those of us with money to spend; but the LGBTQI community is more than the affluent, we are also the disempowered, the homeless, the sick, the sufferers of discrimination and violence.Instead of embracing our diversity, the Gay Community is repeating what many of us as individuals grew up doing: hiding parts of ourselves so that we would not stand out as a target, hoping maybe one day to get a stamp of approval. Corporations and other entities sense opportunity in our willingness to appease, and pink wash themselves as a way to get their hands in our pockets.
But when you put away childish things, you're open to discovering that 'it get's better'. Something I've noticed about the young activists I'm working with today is that they better understand how the world is interconnected and are more willing to work with people outside their demographic. They also show more respect for older activists and the struggles they went through than I did when I was their age.
So we must Occupy Pride. We honor our radical roots for full liberation for women, people of color, immigrants, disabled, all the oppressed and marginalized. We must tear down the barriers that divide us to build and nurture an inclusive community, celebrating those of us excluded from conventional Pride... Housing, healthcare, protection from discrimination, human rights are queer rights, queer rights are human rights! There are no spectators.Not every young activist is on the same page. One potential recruit replied, "but people come to San Francisco to be entertained, how are you gonna pay for it?" Our society has been force fed the myth that slick, packaged and glossy is better than sincere, authentic and heartfelt. Indeed, to be a passive spectator watching a four hour 'Tournament of Poses', separated by police barricades, is not what those brave pissed off friends fought for in the sixties.
There is no Pride in the 1%. Come join us, at a real street party next Sunday. You're family.
for more details, our website is bayoccupride.com, you can write us at email@example.com and follow us @bayoccupride