I remember having a conversation with my best friend a year or two ago about cishet (cisgender-heterosexual) people going to Pride. She is straight, and I had come out to her a while back as bisexual. At the time, we both agreed that there is nothing wrong with it, that Pride is a place for everyone. After all, if we're going to win this fight, we need our allies beside us.
But I was still left feeling unsatisfied at the end of our discussion, like there was more I wanted to say but I didn't quite know what was bothering me or how to articulate it. It wasn't until recently, when I happened to scroll past this tweet, that I fully understood my reservations about cishets going to Pride.
"Pride is not a party, it's a protest." The problem with cishets going to Pride is that more often than not, they do not understand our history. They don't go to Pride to stand in solidarity with us — they go so they can dress in up rainbows and be entertained, as if queer culture exists for their enjoyment and fetishization.
You get to go home and take off your rainbow sunglasses, shedding the identity you claimed for a day without having to take any accountability for what it means to be queer. I don't get to strip myself of my sexual orientation after I leave the parade. I bear that part of myself 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year through the fun times and through the really, really terrible times.
Pride is not an excuse for cishets to "be gay for a day." You don't get to ignore and mock us the rest of the time then show up thinking you have a place at Pride. If you don't know, understand, and respect the history of the queer community, you do not belong at Pride. Being an ally requires constant education and support, and if you aren't willing to put in that work, don't come and exploit our community at an event with nearly 50 years of history behind it that you refuse to acknowledge.
Pride is not your party; it's our protest, our liberation, our moment to feel empowered by our identities rather than repressed. The mainstream popularization of Pride doesn't diminish its roots or its purpose. The first Pride parade was no parade at all; it was a political demonstration. Held on June 28th, 1970, Christopher Street Liberation Day marked the first Pride parade and was created to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the Stonewall riots.
Those riots and the discrimination, violence, killing, hatred, and oppression of members of the LGBTQIA+ community are the reasons Pride exists. We don't march "just for fun" or because we want to protest "straight rights." You don't have "straight pride parades" because no one is waging a war against heterosexuality. We march because we are suffering and dying at the hands of queerphobia and discrimination. You can have your parades when you've been mocked, beaten, and killed because of the gender of the person you love.
Please, don't get the idea that allies aren't welcome at Pride. Of course they are; they are vital to our cause. All I ask is that you be an activeally. Learn about what we've gone through and the casual queerphobia we face every day. Stand up for us when you hear someone say something that you know isn't right. If you take the time to hear us and learn where you belong in relation to our community, I am truly and sincerely grateful for you and would be humbled to have you march alongside us.
This June is the first time I will be celebrating Pride Month as an out and proud bisexual woman, and I am overjoyed to say that I get to attend my very first Pride in a few weeks with my girlfriend by my side. It is a privilege that I get to openly celebrate who I am, because a year ago I never would've thought that to be possible.
When I go to Pride, I will be there to honor our community and our liberation. I will be there to fight for queer people of every orientation, race, age, and ability; for queer people who have been made to believe that who they are is wrong and broken; for queer people who cannot come out of the closet because doing so could cost them their lives.
"I was afraid of this parade because I wanted so badly to be a part of it. So today, I'm marching for that part of me that was once too afraid to march and for all the people who can't march — the people who living lives like I did. Today, I march to remember that I'm not just a me, but I'm also a we. And we march with pride." —Nomi Marks, "Sense8"
I will remember Stonewall. And the 1973 UpStairs Lounge attack. And the 1987 gay rights and AIDS march on Washington. And the 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting. I will remember the victims and the activists who have fought and died for my right to exist. I will remember it all, because this history is my history. If you are ready and willing to learn and fight with us — not just when it's convenient for you, but all the time — we would love to have you at Pride. Otherwise, stay home.