This year, the organizers of LA PRIDE!, Christopher Street West, faced a choice between continuing as usual with the annual Pride Parade, or organizing in sympathy with protest marches around the nation.
Shortly after the inauguration of President Trump and the subsequent Womens’ Marches, a National March for Equality and Unity was organized in Washington, DC. In Washington, Capital Pride has traditionally held their Pride Parade on Saturday evening, so the March on Washington was planned for Sunday, June 11, so as not to conflict.
The problem, of course, was that LA PRIDE! has traditionally held its Parade on Sunday morning, so the choice was to go on as usual, or march in solidarity.
When Brian Pendleton organized a Facebook event urging CSW to change the Parade to a March, nearly 25,000 people responded in favor, and the dye was cast.
Some local businesses pushed back, because the felt (rightly so) that the change would hurt business and their employees, and some Gay Republicans asked what we were resisting, but considering the controversy over LA PRIDE! in 2016 calling for more of a return to the events’ roots, the decision fit the times.
But nobody asked the question: what message are we sending to future LGBT generations with a Resist March?
Forty seven years ago, Pride began as the ultimate Resist March, but as LGBT people have become more visible, and started to make accomplishments on our Civil Rights agenda, Pride evolved into a celebration of how far we have come.
Did the Resist March perpetuate older LGBT generation’s history of victimization? My generation and my elders’ definitely had a lot to overcome. As I was just coming out in the 1990’s, Bill Clinton was signing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and the Defense of Marriage Act. That did not make it easy to accept who I was at the time.
What did make it easier to start coming out was to see other people like myself–those who had overcome society’s obstacles, those who loved honestly and freely as themselves, and who were succeeding.
That’s why for future LGBT generations, we need to be careful about the messages we send–do we want to tell them that life will be rough and the government will limit their rights if they come out, or do we want to say, “you are normal, you are loved, and you can be fabulous!”
To me, the latter is a more important message to send, and is the message of what Pride has become, so I hope we will embrace the greatness of our community in the future, and lift each other up as we Choose Pride.