One Equal World

Does Pride need to go back to its roots?

Posted on: June 25, 2012

Pride has always been a chance for a marginalized community to get together and truly be themselves, to gain strength through shared experience, and to make sure that the world at large isn’t allowed to pretend that they don’t exist.  But Pride parades used to be much different than they are today.

Originally held to commemorate the riots that followed the police raid on the Stonewall Inn on Christopher Street in Greenwich Village, the first parade was a demonstration going by the name of the “Christopher Street Liberation Day.”  These early parades were equal parts celebration and activism but as the movement shifted culturally these early “Gay Liberation” and “Gay Freedom” parades became known as “Gay Pride.”

Not everyone in the movement is happy with the change.  This year especially there was pushback about the perceived commercialization of the festivities, especially the fact that Pride took quite a bit of money from banks and companies like Budweiser.  But for those who disagree with the main festivities there are always other choices.

This year in San Francisco in addition to the main Pride Parade there were other groups and parades for those who were looking for a return to Pride’s activist roots.  There was a rally at the former site of Compton’s Cafeteria in the Tenderloin to commemorate the rebellion of transgender women against San Francisco police, a protest by Pride at Work (a LGBT group protesting discrimination against transgender people in health insurance), and OccuPride (a group protesting the commercialism of the event in various areas throughout the city).

Organizers of OccuPride were quick to explain that they would not be protesting the parade itself, even as they rallied against its commercialism.

“We have a list of targets and we’ll be doing different actions,” said organizer Craig Rouskey. “We’re not attacking the Pride parade. We’re not attacking the committee that puts it together. We’re not attacking our family on the floats.”

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