This year during Pride season I decided to check out a festival and parade I haven’t attended before.
So I’m off to San Francisco this weekend to see how the gay U.S. city celebrates all things LGBT and rallies support for the ongoing fight for equal rights.
I expect it will eclipse other Pride events, except for perhaps New York City’s, in numbers of participants and spectators. I’ve been told there’s more of everything, including bravado. A friend tipped (or warned) me about the public nudity.
I’m looking forward to the opportunity to connect with old friends, make a few new ones, spend a few days in a city with cooler temps and, like every Pride season, re-examine what it means to have gay pride.
Whether or not you attend festivals and parades, an interesting thing about Pride is that it always seems to spark conversation.
A perennial favorite topic is whether Pride events are needed. I believe they still have value, especially in communities lacking opportunities for the diverse LGBT population to get to know one another and comingle outside of bars. However, in urban areas like San Francisco, New York and LA, these events may have more of a party vibe than a lifeline for struggling young, closeted, elderly and other LGBT residents.
A Huffington Post writer recently lamented how Pride has changed. He recalled a time when parade floats reflected community and demonstrators’ commitment to the cause. Now, he says, corporate sponsors have taken over the parade and use it (and barely dressed guys) to collect email addresses and other information for future promotions.
For some, this is a reflection of how LGBTs are viewed by society. Someone I interviewed earlier this month for a different story put it this way: “We’re known as partiers and for our celebrations. We used to be known as demonstrators and rebel-rousers.”
An argument could be made, and has been made, that corporate sponsorships are a form of financial support and acknowledgment of our broader acceptance.
Still, I have to admit the presence of a run-of-the-mill Budweiser truck in a Pride parade without so much as an equality sticker on the windshield is an unusual display of support.
The thing to remember, I suppose, is that Pride really should be about the LGBT community. And communities are composed of all types of people. Some of us drink Budweiser. Some of us demonstrate. Some do both. Some would never do either.
As we continue to win civil rights and gain Corporate America’s support, let’s remember to always embrace the activists and advocates who advanced the gay rights movement and continue to make our voices heard.
TIPS FOR PRIDE
I welcome ideas for making the most of San Francisco Pride. Email me your suggestions at firstname.lastname@example.org. Happy Pride!