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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, you can write us at and follow us @bayoccupride

Originally posted to Xavior Breff on Sat Jun 16, 2012 at 12:37 PM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (11+ / 0-)

    "we're flying high on affluenza, mounting severed servants heads on the credenza" -Sanctuary City of the Rich

    by Xavior Breff on Sat Jun 16, 2012 at 12:37:44 PM PDT

  •  Corporate sponsorship has been a thorn (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bnasley, blueoasis

    in the side of the movement for a long time.  It's always made me a little queasy.  It is not at all clear that these corporations share our goals, but, boy, do they like the money of the wealthier elements of the LGBTQ community.

    I wish you the best on this endeavor.  I'm on the wrong coast to be able to attend, I'm afraid.

    -5.13,-5.64; If you gave [Jerry Falwell] an enema, you could bury him in a matchbox. -- Christopher Hitchens

    by gizmo59 on Sat Jun 16, 2012 at 07:40:49 PM PDT

    •  go with your gut (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      gizmo59, joe wobblie, blueoasis

      that reminds me, when I was an editor for my high school yearbook, and Coke offered to come in and snazz up our yearbook in exchange for product placement, it also "made me a little bit queasy." It felt fake and forced, even to a naive country boy, so we said no.

      thank you for the support, I don't know where you are, but I'm hoping this action and the one happening in New York on the same day will feed into discussions going on regarding sponsorship and corporate creep.

      "we're flying high on affluenza, mounting severed servants heads on the credenza" -Sanctuary City of the Rich

      by Xavior Breff on Sat Jun 16, 2012 at 08:37:35 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  WOW - Finally someone calls us on our "stuff" (5+ / 0-)

    I worked with the Pride Committee for many years in the late 80 and early 90's, and finally left in discussed when ACT UP/SF called for a Boycott of Miller and the Pride Committee decided to flip their finger at the "RADICAL ELEMENT" and not only did not boycott Miller, but made them a corporate sponsor, WITHOUT even accepting any "blood money". For many years PRIDE INC has accepted money from Alcohol companies making our community look like a bunch of "drunks". This year, looking  at te corporate sponsors of the Gay Pride website, some 75% of them are once again alcohol related, really drawing into question Pride Incs ability to outreach to diverse communities, and diverse selection of sponsors that reflect our community, and our community values.

    Alcoholism, and escapism are HUGE community issues, and SF Gay Pride is an event that, still to this day, does not promote inclusion and community, but promotes drinking, without regards to the problems alcoholism brings to our community as a hole, and with no regard to education about this situation, and promoting drinking as a community value, with little outreach to a diverse collection of corporate sponsorship, more representative of our community and its values.

    I hate to say this, but it seems to me, looking at the corporate sponsor list, as if there is little to no outreach any more, and instead they are sitting back and taking the easy money with little regard to how this reflects the community as a whole, and our community values, and the face we paint to the world.

    I support this event 100% and wish this would have happened years ago.  Gay Pride is about Celebrating Our Community, and its Diversity, not a Drink Fest!

    - Jeff US Army/Retired ... With a long enough lever one person can move the World! DoSomething-Anything.Info

    by l3m0n on Sat Jun 16, 2012 at 07:57:00 PM PDT

    •  Stockholm Syndrome? (0+ / 0-)

      I may be misusing the reference, but much of what the 'Gay Community' (vs. the queer population) engages in reminds me of behavior you'd expect from someone in a dysfunctional relationship: acting out on addictons (individuals) and giving in to power imbalance (as a community).

      it's like we're grateful for every little crumb and we settle for what we can get from the 'better than us' straight population. I think as a whole the community suffers from a brittle sense of self esteem that depends on how 'normal' society views us, with us feeling 'less than'.

      for instance, marriage contracts and military assignments are big wins, while blatant discrimination and violence is still a huge problem, just ask Ce Ce McDonald.

      but maybe this is the way to go, grab all the gains you can, and never let up, even if they don't come in the order you'd like.

      just don't forget to return to unfinished business.

      "we're flying high on affluenza, mounting severed servants heads on the credenza" -Sanctuary City of the Rich

      by Xavior Breff on Sat Jun 16, 2012 at 09:03:11 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Congratulations! (0+ / 0-)

    You've earned enough clout to sell out!

    There's a cloud for every silver lining.

    "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

    by HeyMikey on Sat Jun 16, 2012 at 09:07:38 PM PDT

  •  when the public sees that (4+ / 0-)

    Respectable companies are behind the gay rights movement, it helps them to understand that not only is the gay community sizable, but that it is an accepted member of the larger economy. It is a very positive message IMO. Plus, the monetary support can go to many worthwhile GLBT causes. Okay, so there are some negatives, but on balance the move toward corporate sponsorship of the movement is a natural next step.

    •  the natural next step toward...? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      hi doc2, thanks for commenting, it brings up more questions.

      what makes a 'respectable company'? Wells Fargo, Bank of America, AT&T, Verizon, Comcast, Clear Channel- certainly well known,  have all engaged in practices undeserving of respect. they are easy targets for anyone who wants to make the case against corporate sponsorship.

      there are other companies that are an obvious good fit, like local magazines, newspapers, hotels, the symphony, and several gay owned businesses. are these less respectable because of their size and location?

      considering the state it's in and what it's doing to a large sector of society, do we want to be an 'accepted member of the larger economy'? by being consumers and producers, aren't we already in?

      as far as sponsorship, it's not the same thing as getting 'behind a movement'. some companies have made efforts towards more equitable work policies, and we heap praise on them, but why isn't an equitable work environment simply baseline?

      donations fund important programs in areas where our government has dropped the ball, but just as with other kinds of support, it comes with conditions, and sometimes those conditions exclude the people who aren't part of the desirable demographic.

      I can imagine how a business could sincerely wish to help out the movement, monetarily and otherwise, and I think we can come up with better, more 'respectable'  methods that consider the values of the community and sets an example for other public/private collaborations.

      "we're flying high on affluenza, mounting severed servants heads on the credenza" -Sanctuary City of the Rich

      by Xavior Breff on Sat Jun 16, 2012 at 11:59:19 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Has anyone ever though of vtting out the sponsors. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Xavior Breff, joe wobblie, blueoasis

        Sponsors make millions off our community duru=ying the week of Pide. Why not have a vetting process where we look at their track record on Gay Issues, and Gay Support, and DENY their sponsorship if they don
        't have an employee dometic partners program. Give Health Benefits ti Gay Couples, Give Maternity Leave to Gay Couple that adopt to bond with the baby. Recognize Gay Marriages ... if they do not survive the vetting poccess no sponsorship!  Sponsors should suppport our values as a community, and us as people, before they are allowed to feed from the trough of Gay Pide!

        - Jeff US Army/Retired ... With a long enough lever one person can move the World! DoSomething-Anything.Info

        by l3m0n on Sun Jun 17, 2012 at 05:25:48 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Why stop there? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Xavior Breff

          Deny corporate sponsors that have any major ethical problems, related to gay rights or not.  Union buster?  Rejected.  Promote cigarette advertising to minors?  Sorry.  Rogue state engaging in mass terrorism (I'm looking at you, Israel)? Bark up another tree.

          Furthermore, fuck marriage and "rights," as they are just the recuperation of radical ideas into capitalism and the corrupt State.  Good god, why the fuck would anyone celebrate gay people being able to openly join the military?  You should be trying to stop it, not join it!  And whose stupid idea was it to categorize people as "Gay" or "Bi" or "Trans" etc when there are so many that the only rational way of thinking of "gender" is as a continuum rather than distinct categories?

        •   time to join the committee? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          vetting is an excellent idea, it reminds me of the private school in Naomi Klein's No Logo who told the uniform company, if you want to make our uniforms, you have to stop using sweatshop labor. the queer community has more leverage than we realize.

          "we're flying high on affluenza, mounting severed servants heads on the credenza" -Sanctuary City of the Rich

          by Xavior Breff on Sun Jun 17, 2012 at 08:39:15 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  We have HUGE clout in capitalism ... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            We have nothing but expendable income, and we need to start voting with our pocket books, and our events, and put forth organizations that promote our agenda and ideals, not that are treating us as a commodity.  What about positive points for companies that give to Gay Non-Profits, or AIDS organizations, that do Public Service Announcements, and like wise try to promote and educate the populace. Not only should the vetting process ding bad companies, it should REWARD positive companies that are taking a stand behind our community.  The Circle of Sponsorship should not be about how much MONEY they give, but how much GOOD WORKS they do for our community.

            OUTREACH, OUTREACH, OUTREACH. There should be Diverse Outreach, like the Federal Government does. Minority and Gay Owned business should go to the front of the vetting line. Small Businesses STEP FORWARD. It is not about the MONEY in my book, it is about their GOOD WORKS. I don't to be BOUGHT, I wanna be WOW'ed!

            - Jeff US Army/Retired ... With a long enough lever one person can move the World! DoSomething-Anything.Info

            by l3m0n on Sun Jun 17, 2012 at 09:01:54 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  I read this last night (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    blueoasis, Xavior Breff

    And then later I watched a pbs program about SF in the early AIDS epidemic days. What they had then was community. The community cared for each other to a degree that is unheard of in every day life.

    So while a lot of valid points have been made here, after reflection, how would corporate sponsorship enhance community? It would enhance it if it were local. The local gay friendly businesses are the ones that deserve support. They are the ones it is useful to network with. They are the ones that can (and will) donate to local causes.

    When I go to a pride event I don't want to see a big target logo. I want to see who in my community supports equality. Because those are the ones I will support with my business and purchasing power.

    While many minority groups are the target for discrimination, few face this hostility without the support and acceptance of their family as do many glbt youth.

    by azrefugee on Sun Jun 17, 2012 at 09:48:58 AM PDT

    •  RIGHT ON, and don't for get Local Minority Owned . (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I think as a whole large chains should be excluded from sponsorship, which REALLY cheap advertising, and instead, they should be forced to do GOOD WORKS for the community. I agree I would like to see local small Gay nd Minority businesses take the lime light in sponsorship, but that takes OUTREACH, OUTREACH, OUTREACH.  Gay Pride is seen around the world, it is the BIGGEST party in the world, and it is covered EVERYWHERE.  Local Business with an Internet Presence need to be made to understand and see the potential of the bang for their advertising buck!

      - Jeff US Army/Retired ... With a long enough lever one person can move the World! DoSomething-Anything.Info

      by l3m0n on Sun Jun 17, 2012 at 11:17:06 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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