I’m seeing a lot of discussion online this week about how Pride should be safe and family friendly, and that people who aren’t sexual should feel that they can safely turn up and not see sexual things. This worries me.
Children are actually exposed to sexual imagery all the time – only usually it is heterosexual in nature. Try watching a Disney film… Straight sex is a constant theme in TV adverts. We’re all normalised to this so we don’t always notice the sexual lessons and stereotypes and the sexualisation of women that happens in front of us all the time. Children grow up seeing female bodies dressed for the male gaze – which means highly sexualised women.
I’m not aware of any Pride events where people actually have sex in public. There may be booths handing out information, there may be things you can buy. Pride is about sexual identity. If you take your children to a Pride event, you have to be willing to deal with whatever questions they have. Parenting is an active thing, and around sex it is really important to do clear and active parenting of your child. That includes making decisions about what you think it’s appropriate for them to encounter, and dealing with it when they encounter things that they weren’t ready for.
Because that’s going to happen regardless of whether you take them to Pride events. If your children are online, they’re going to see things. If your children watch television, they are already seeing things, and if you aren’t conscious of that because you think it’s normal, you have much bigger issues around sexual representation, and sexualisation than what might happen at Pride events. If you are happy to have your children soak up sexualised images of women presented for the male gaze but you worry that Pride events will corrupt them, don’t go to Pride events. Also, you have some massive issues to deal with and no idea what kind of sexualised ideas your children have already absorbed.
If you don’t know what a Pride event might involve and you take your kids along because it looks like a fun day out and are then horrified… that’s actually on you for bad parenting. It is not an issue with the event.
If you want the queers to behave nicely so that you can go out and have some innocent fun with your family, that is utter shit. That’s you wanting queer people to perform for your amusement in a way that makes you comfortable. If you want all the pretty rainbow flags and a nice parade, but you want it sanitised for your comfort – you have no business being at a Pride event. This is not a pageant for your amusement, you are not entitled to make it all about you.
And to any fellow queer who wishes those other queers would tone it down and be less controversial and not embarrass you…. or whatever it is… Take a moment to look at how patriarchal, hetranormative and toxic this whole line of thinking is. We live in a culture that has normalised presenting sexualised young female bodies for the male gaze, and we treat anything sexual that isn’t about the male consumption of the female body as offensive. It is vitally important to change this, and we may need to start with looking hard at our own beliefs and feelings.