Tag Archives: Pride

Pride – being an ally

It’s Pride month, and you might be a straight person who would like to be an ally and support your queer friends. This is not an exhaustive or definitive list, just some things to think about.

Don’t centre yourself – if this is about looking good, or cool or wanting to go to events you aren’t really helping much. 

Don’t police the language queer people use to talk about themselves, and don’t demand that queer spaces be adapted to make you feel more comfortable. Amplify your queer friends. Put your pronouns on your social media profile, if you feel comfortable doing that. Listen, and learn. Building insight and understanding is a really meaningful thing to do.

Don’t treat LGBTQA folk like we’re all one thing. We are not a coherent entity with a single set of opinions, feelings and needs by which we are all tidily defined. We don’t all agree with each other about all kinds of things. What you’ve picked up from one queer friend, or one queer celebrity you follow on Twitter isn’t the whole story. Don’t assume you know enough to speak for people – because no one does. Not everyone who is (by my reckoning) queer would be comfortable with me using the word ‘queer’ to describe all queer people because not everyone identifies this way. But, it’s my blog, I’m using my preferred term and I’m not going to spend the whole time flagging up the language complexities. It’s ok that we don’t all agree about everything. Diversity is good.

Don’t buy Pride merch from corporations. It’s just commercial exploitation. Putting a rainbow on something is pretty flimsy support, and does very little to support LGBTQA people. If you want to spend money on having cool gay things during June, then look for the independent creative folk who are making Pride stuff because they are queer creators. Supporting them is a much more meaningful use of your money, and will do all kinds of good.

Don’t lose sight of what Pride is about. It’s not a celebration, not really. It’s an assertion of presence from a marginalised group that is subject to abuse, and in some places, at real risk of death, injury or imprisonment. Pride started as a riot, and continues as a protest. It’s about people coming together to support each other, and raise awareness. It isn’t just a party. It isn’t about the corporations who want to co-opt it because they reckon they can cash in on the gay pound, the lesbian dollar… It should not exist to comfort the comfortable.

There are of course invariably people who respond to Pride by wanting Straight Pride. If you want to take on any work as an ally, this is a good one to go after, especially if you catch people you know expressing this idea. Straight people don’t need Pride events because they are not at any risk as a consequence of experiencing hetrosexual desire and love for people of the opposite sex. Pride in no way makes it unsafe to be straight. There is no shift towards a world in which the currently dominant majority will suddenly find it has the love that dares not speak its name. That’s not what this is about. More rights for everyone does not mean that the people with the most advantages have something taken away from them. 

Matters of Pride

Coming out isn’t something you get to do once. It’s something you may have to repeat, many times, always with some anxiety about how people will react to you. It doesn’t help that it’s the people who get close that you will most need to come out to. The people you need to have understand you, and who may be impacted by the way you are and the kinds of relationships you have. It’s high stakes and a lot to lose if they don’t turn out to be ok with who you are. But, how close can you be to someone if you have to hide significant parts of yourself?

I take great comfort in my queer friends, and my kinky friends, and the folk I know will not judge me or think less of me on account of who I am. The people I am close enough to that I can be honest with them about the other people I am close to.

I get off fairly lightly. There are far too many people in this world who are not free or safe to love the people they love. There are too many people who are not free or safe in expressing themselves sexually in consenting ways with other adults. The consequences of coming out, or worse still, being outed, can be dire. Sometimes fatal.

Many human cultures have stories about who is allowed to do what with whom, what is moral, what is evil, what is acceptable to various gods, what’s abhorrent. Those stories are based on value judgements and priorities, and some of those stories are cruel, and toxic. If it seems more appropriate to kill someone than to let them love who they love, something has gone badly wrong.

Love is good. Love is always good. No one should be afraid of loving whoever they are moved to love. Sex is a good, beautiful thing and anyone who wants to do that in any way that works for them should not have to be afraid of how other people will respond. That there are so many people who are more horrified by what consenting adults choose to do together than they are by rape does not say good things about us as a culture.

Taking your children to Pride

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.