The first pride parade was held on June 28, 1970. People were marching in New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago in the United States. It was the first anniversary of the Stonewall uprising of the riots against police raids of gay clubs, of these demonstrations of brutality and blatant queerphobia. One of the most known names that makes history in this event was that of Marsha P. Johnson, the black drag queen and activist.
In 2023, the big question is: How Pride looks now. From one side we can see that it is still an event for the people. On the other side, voices say that it is for and by the corporations. We want to discuss the two sides of this.
Pride parade is still for the people. Queer people around the world have to still fight for basic human rights. Laws are still being changed. Countries where people can be killed or beaten for their sexuality or gender not assigned at birth still persist. Countries that don’t have equal rights for queer or trans people, where couples cannot adopt or where you may not change your gender markers on identification.
While I was talking to people at Pride, the most shocking thing to me was that people are still needing to fight for trans rights here in Norway. Here, transgender people need to go through a long process to get basic gender affirming care. If you want to transition, whenever you are in the country, you have to go to a clinic in Oslo. And the general knowledge about the trans and nonbinary community is still lacking. There is still fear that any therapist or professional you may talk to will judge you based on your presentation, your appearance.
Parades gather people from an amplitude of different communities. It’s a time to feel love, joy, and freedom. It’s a time when people know that they are not alone in their struggles. The atmosphere is reassuring and comforting, you feel the understanding that you do not get from family or school. Pride also serves people in the arena of publicizing current minority issues. It ensures that problems people have are heard.
The parade is a time to be free. People may express themselves however they want. They can do it by singing, by being a drag king or queen, and wear what they want. Particularly in homophobic countries this is of paramount importance, as in everyday life people will try to blend in to stay in the closet and avoid violence.
Let’s talk about the other side now.
That Pride has become the platform for politicians and corporations to use to gain prestige. They don’t care what Pride is about and what they are fighting for. The latter one used them to sell good marketing public relations, when the former one use it to gain votes. They appear at Pride, cheering with everyone, but then when it comes to action, they do nothing to resolve minority issues. At the parade they make meaningless promises that they will not think about if they get into parliament. Many engage in pinkwashing, the strategy that uses the parade as a source of improving the brand image. They do the bare minimum to look better in the public eyes and get more customers.
Since June is the Pride month (And various localized Pride weeks, such as the one recently in Kristiansand), every corporation is ‘turning gay’. They put on rainbow logos, producing numerous products marketed for queer people. But what they care about is money. With every new limited edition pride product produced, Pride is becoming more corporate than queer. The side that creates the “accepted” form of the queer people pushing out who are less to the taste of everyday people, for example polycules, non-typical, nonbinary people or the kinkier side of the LQBTQ+ community. The nonheteronormative people are getting objectified for corporations. They become the solution to achieving their monthly goals.
So here we are now, in 2023, when the first parade started as a voice of the riots in Stonewall to now, when Pride is getting corrupted by the organizations that care more about money than nonheteronormative freedom. The only thing, we want you to think of at the event, is that enjoy the parade as much as you can. Have fun, make friends and be happy. When the parade is over, check the corporations that were there. Watch them and criticize. Use your voice so the pinkwashing will not go unnoticed. This is the call for action because people have power. Stonewall gave us that, so let’s not waste it.