Greetings from New York City. I’m writing this on Saturday, June 23rd. It’s the day before the big Pride parade here. Lots of proud lesbian women, and a whole lot of proud gay men, as well as a healthy sprinkling of proud bisexual folks, and a nice assortment of proud transgender people. A lot of people turn out for Gay Day in New York, and the weather is supposed to be fairy-tale appropriate: sunshine, sunshine, sunshine. I won’t be going. I’m proud of a lot of things in my life, but it doesn’t seem that I’m proud of what I’m supposed to be proud of.
Gay pride day is also called LGBT pride day, but honestly when it comes down to the politics of Pride Day and the setting of any national agenda, the "B" and "T" in LGBT are mostly silent. Bisexuals and Transgender people usually have to fight to be included on some Gay and Lesbian festival title or proposed congressional bill. I don’t know why that is. Maybe it’s because bisexuals and transgender people are difficult to explain to most other people. "Gay and lesbian" seems easy to explain: "We’re just like you, except in the bedroom. We want to go to Disneyland; we want joint stock portfolios, and we want to be married just like you." And those are the people who get to set the LGbt national agenda. It’s a pretty narrowly defined field of who gets to be proud on Pride Day; and with a few lovely exceptions, most large cities in the USA look like that on Pride Day.
The good news is that I’ve been to more and more smaller cities and towns all over the country, and quite a few colleges and universities that actively acknowledge and pursue a coalition of LGBTAQ (allies, questioning). Some even add an "I" for Intersex. A few add another Q for Queer. And QUEER seems to be the word that crosses lines of gender identity and/or sexual orientation with lines politics and power, maybe even with spirituality.
In the USA, the people who control the national agenda and media of the LGbt movement are mostly white, mostly upwardly mobile gay men and lesbian women. They mostly wouldn’t call themselves queer. They’re almost kind of straight, when it comes to the politics of sex, gender and economy. They’re the ones who get to be proud tomorrow. In the USA, the radical left queer folks don’t get to be proud. We gets to be ignored, invisibilized, mocked and even patronized by the capitalist sexist heteronormative puritanical US culture, and even by the more straight-leaning gay and lesbian shapers of not only Pride Day, but the LGbt national agenda. But it’s not like that everywhere in the world.
I’ve just come back from Amsterdam and London, and that’s not how it is over there. The radical left queer movement seems to be the leading edge of European GLBTQQIA politics. They call it Queer, and they’re taken seriously. They’ve made quite a few national political gains without having to be like everyone else except in bed. Trannies, bisexuals, polyamorists, BDSMers, kinky folks, and sex workers all have a voice. And it’s not just the activism. The queer and genderqueer (add another "G" ?) film, photography and performance I saw while I was there was jaw-droppingly powerful. Queer art in Europe is in alignment not only with the people who’ve got the ear of the media and help set national and international agendas; but queer art in Europe is also aligned with the postmodern and queer theory taught in the colleges and universities. It’s a pretty powerful coalition. While I was there, I saw that coalition tackle issues beyond gender and sexuality: race, class, age, spirituality, body (type/size), citizenship, body (ability), and economy. They dealt openly with sex education, sex work, pornography, and sadomasochism. There was room for conservative trannies as well as gender anarchists. There was room for the voices of the polyamorous, the monogamous and the asexual. I’m completely smitten with the queer world of Europe and England, and I plan to be writing more and more about them, and hopefully with them.
In closing today, my wish for you on Pride Day is that you’re the kind of person who gets to celebrate Pride Day because where you live now is where they include people like you. That’s a GREAT feeling and I wouldn’t begrudge it to anyone. Go, enjoy yourself. Have a wonderful time!!
And if Pride Day doesn’t include you because your sexuality can’t be found on the map; or because your gender won’t sit still… well, are you trying your best to make life worthwhile for yourself without being mean to anyone? That’s something you can take pride in. Hell, I’m proud of you for that.