“Pride hasn’t included me in a long, long time.”
Written by a friend on Facebook and posted here with their permission. They are much better at putting their feelings into words than I am, but reading it, I found myself nodding from shared experience.
The most I could manage on this topic lately was the above Facebook post on Sunday after making a decision I would not go to a “Bollywood” themed bear happy hour after laughing to myself that at least it meant there would people of color on the screens for a change.In DC, we’ve pretty much lost our distinct gay spaces, Women’s clubs are gone, Black and Latinx bars/clubs have mostly shuttered. Not that I want those spaces to be the only places people could go, but they very much were places to go and “be” without worrying about feeling welcome. And one can go to “mixed” bars, but those spaces are predominately white. And while there shouldn’t be anything wrong with that, as I’ve said, in subtle ways you don’t always feel welcome.
And I do have white gay friends who are very “Facebook woke” but at the same time, just as I am hesitant to do, I doubt they would risk their seat at the table or spot at the bar to express frustrations they don’t have to — and likely don’t have — in support of someone else like this.
But enough from me…
Here’s the truth: never have I felt less like attending Atlanta Pride.1
Pride hasn’t included me in a long, long time.
Up until several years ago, I’ve walked and celebrated every Pride for every other group of the LGBTQIAA+ community over the years, in New York City and Atlanta.
In return, I’ve seen white gays protest the existence of a Black Pride, accuse the Black LGBTQIAA+ community of being separatists and furthering division through “reverse racism.”
I’ve read op-eds sweeping the Black communities’ concerns about HIV and transgender protections under the rug while gay establishments post dress codes specifically banning clothing accoutrements culturally associated with POCs.
I’ve witnessed with my own eyes and ears white employees and patrons of those same bars and nightclubs declare that Black gays are “too loud”, “too cheap”, and “not their target audience”… expressing every desire for Blacks to know our place when they aren’t fetishizing us for our “huge endowments” and “animal sexuality.”
But it’s never *you* they mean when they appropriate Black slang, putting on the life and voice of what they think a strong Black woman is as interpreted by a drag queen, and do it better than she could because they can take the dress off at the end of the day. It’s all in fun, right?
Everywhere I look in Atlanta, and I don’t have to look very far, even among friends, I see a community intent on maintaining its Eurocentricity while cherry-picking its causes and defining the masculine aesthetic of beauty as “white/bearded/hirsute”, effectively erasing any other possible yardstick of attraction, and calling it “preference”. Congrats, I survived your thoughtless emasculation.
So, please tell me again about the Rainbow Flag and the Bear flag representing inclusivity and diversity together, and how that should encourage me to raise my voice in defense of that ideal when that hasn’t existed for me in years.
15 Black men and women have died of violence, most at the hands of law enforcement, over the last 30 days alone, and no one apparently believes that deserves a memorial as relevant as the Pulse mass shooting earlier this year, because “#AllLivesMatter”.
Genocide is happening right NOW, and where are you, white allies, on top of your floats, throwing your beads and your condoms and club flyers, hooking up at the Aquarium kickoff party?
That’s why I’m not thrilled with Pride anymore… because Black corpses have piled up this year because each time someone somewhere decided that Black lives were not worth the effort of deserving equal consideration of life, and of course Atlanta’s white gays don’t need “another downer.”
Fuck Atlanta Pride, and, if you don’t like that, fuck you too. You couldn’t be more out-of-touch with me if you tried.
I have been at a bar where a patron told me, “It’s a little dark downstairs,” referring to the fact that the crowd had separated to majority-white upstairs and majority-Black downstairs. I’ve had a bartender “joke” with me, insisting that I wanted Hennessy when I had ordered something different.
Last night, for the Vice Presidential debate, Grindr2 handed the reins of their account over to comedian Guy Branam for the evening and while some of the tweets were on fire, others were not. Especially one making light of immigration and deportation — from an app with a race filter that is very centered in gay whiteness. And people called them/him on it.
I (@guybranum), am white, and I'm sorry for the extent to which my privilege made me feel it was ok to joke about deportation.
— Grindr (@Grindr) October 5, 2016
From those us of who have stood there, stone-faced as we suffered through a horrible privilege-borne joke or the casual “Aw, I didn’t mean it like that,” racist comment. Trust me, we already know. 🙄
1 My closest friends know where this comes from. If you the reader end up angry at me for anything I say here, I suggest you take some time to self-examine, and decide why this stings. Just do yourself a favor and don’t come for me with anything less than humility. I’ve had one too many people concern-trolling me for how angry I seem to get over this.
2 If you don’t know what Grindr is, look it up. But don’t look it up at work.
I know it isn’t quite the same thing, but I’ll never forget walking down the street in San Francisco’s gay mecca, with Mike, and walking past a guy handing out ads for a party. He tried so hard to not let me have one; I had to practically rip it out of his hands. I was just curious, then it became a matter of principle. I was just not welcome, probably due to my weight, judging by the artwork.
I think of that, and I imagine dealing with it day after day after day, and being unable to change it no matter what I do, and I want to rage. I’m sorry you’ve had to deal with this, and I wish it would hurry up and change. The irony of a group that considers itself so marginalized doing even worse to members of its own community is just ridiculous.