Why Pride?

The Tuesday segment of the Alaska Pride Blog is titled “The Movement Called Pride: Past and Present”. Since I’ve spent the past few blogs exploring the past, today is about the present.

Why Pride ?

At many of our Alaska Pride planning meetings we start the evening by asking the question, “Why Pride?” This can be a loaded question and people tend to answer in many different ways. Some people interpret it to mean “why did you choose to come to this meeting”. Others see it as a question of “why did you decide to get involved with Pride”. Still others talk about “why Pride is important to them as a movement”.

All these aspects make up a part of what we mean when we ask the question, “Why Pride?” But we originally started asking this question as a way of discussing the concept of Pride, Not Party. In the past decade or so Prides all over the world  have been getting bigger, more commercial, and more party-oriented. In response, there has been a movement in the past few years to talk about getting back to the more politically oriented roots.

Essentially, the idea is that many Prides have just turned into another excuse to drink, party, and be flamboyant, but many people want Pride to maintain some kind of message about equal rights and human rights. While those of us in United States (on the whole) have the privilege of being “out” without fear of repercussions, there are other places in the world where being gay is illegal and even punishable by death.

Our community still has a long way to go until we are equal in the U.S. but many of us are much better off than if we lived elsewhere. The movement of Pride away from a pure party-scene is a call to remember that part of the reason we can celebrate openly is because we are lucky to have this right. Much of our LGBT family in this world cannot openly celebrate in the same way.

Many people have strongly held beliefs in Alaska when it comes to politics. And lots of people feel that Alaska Pride Fest is not a place for politics. I can certainly understand both sides of the argument. We have spent so much of our lives in the political spotlight – where our choice of partners has been up for political scrutiny and debate for the rest of the country. Pride should be a break from all that – a place for our community to simply gather, celebrate, and just breathe.

At the same time, don’t we owe it those who came before us, those who fought and struggled, those who pushed the boundaries, those who questioned heteronormativity, those who refused to back down: Don’t we owe it to them to recognize their efforts and make a statement to show that we will not stop fighting until we have won our equality?

I’m going to play my lesbian card on this one by quoting Grand Canyon, an Ani DiFranco song, since she makes this point much more eloquently than I ever could:

I love my country
By which I mean
I am indebted joyfully
To all the people throughout its history
Who have fought the government to make right
Where so many cunning sons and daughters
Our foremothers and forefathers
Came singing through slaughter
Came through hell and high water
So that we could stand here
And behold breathlessly the sight
How a raging river of tears
Cut a grand canyon of light

– Ani DiFranco, Grand Canyon

What do you think? Would you like to see some kind of political event be a part of Alaska Pride Fest this year? And if so, what would it be?

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