Pride can be the most intoxicating event ever: a raucous, in-your-face celebration of queerness and a belligerent challenge to hatred and narrow-mindedness.
But in Vancouver, it seems like Pride risks becoming more of a generic festival and less of a queer event with political roots.
I know I should be happy to live in a city where many people tolerate and sometimes even celebrate queers. But there’s something disturbing about how comfortable the thousands of straight spectators are at the Pride Parade. They seem to think it’s just another spectacle–and I’m not sure we’re telling them any different.
Take, for instance, the floats for corporations like Starbucks and Royal Bank; why are they in the Pride Parade? If they were intent on supporting queers they could quietly sponsor floats for queer organizations. But instead they are marching in the parade to show… um, I don’t know, that queers drink cappuccinos and pay service charges just like normal people?
This year will also feature the first Homopalooza for Pride. I hear it won’t be in the West End ghetto but at the Plaza of Nations. Yay, what great news for queers.
First of all, I thought the word ghetto signified areas that people were forced to live in because they were poor or of colour. But aside from that, if Pride is for all queers, not just gay men, I’m not sure that most of us see the West End as our turf anyway.
I guess the event is making the bold move of having a bisexual male-female couple headline the entertainment. Come on. How does this celebrate queer sexuality or gender expression? How does it challenge prejudice? But maybe this is a good choice for an audience that organizers predict could be almost half straight.
There is some love in my heart for Vancouver Pride. I cherish and admire the few freaks in the glossy parade. The Nude Pride guys from Wreck Beach with seaweed wrapped around their penises, the drag queens with chest hair riding bicycles, the Menopausal Old Bitches and random elements like those brave souls who showed up a couple years ago with anti-Gordon Campbell placards.
And the straight observers never manage to completely cancel out the electric thrill of being surrounded by so many dykes, fags and assorted queers.
But it’s just never been my fantasy to have Pride be as easily consumed as Canada Day or the Santa Claus parade.
I want Pride to challenge and educate non-queers as much as it entertains them. I want Pride to belong to the queer communities, not to the general public. I want it to be for us and not for them.
And I never want it to be too acceptable.