Pride once meant the pride that it took to not become a statistic in a system of oppression that produced early graves and starvation-level poverty. Pride once meant remembrance of the sacrifices made by historical LGBTQ+ figures who put their lives on the line at Stonewall in a riot against police brutality. Pride once meant memorializing those lost in the AIDs crisis to stigma and capitalist indifference.
Pride has become a time for brands to espouse how socially conscious they are without having to ante up any sort of meaningful LGBTQ+ liberation. Pride has become an exhausting ritual in seeking the approval of other LGBTQ+ people to prove that not only are you LGBTQ+, but that you are on their side. Pride has become liquor brands sponsoring events even as the effects of alcoholism disproportionately hit LGBTQ+ people.
I wish that I could say that I was excited for Pride this year as I was in my youth, before I saw the insidious nature of the event. I wish that it wasn’t with a heavy heart that I was writing this, and that I was here to bring good news regarding LGBTQ+ liberation. It would be more fun if I could say that it would be easy to push forward or to succeed. The reality, the unfortunate, savage reality, is that capitalism has sought, at every single turn, to punish those who are alien, those who are other. When the capitalist attack on LGBTQ+ people could no longer be sustained primarily through their efforts to actively police LGBTQ+ people, they sought a new method.
The liquor companies kept free drinks flowing, knowing alcoholism was rampant. Banks denied loans for housing knowing the homelessness rates. The reality was that the attack never stopped, they shifted tactics to one that gave them an advantage. They brought cops to Pride events to make sure that the true spirit of Pride, the spirit of resistance, the spirit of survival, would be squashed.
So, this Pride, and for every Pride hereafter, there has to be a message heard by the capitalists, heard by the exploiters who would extend to us a rose, knowing damn well the thorns are poison. The message? Fight back. Fight back like your life depends on it, because, god damn it it does. Fight back against the gentrifiers seeking to use Pride as an excuse to drive out the homeless. Fight back against the police who are there to feint defense only to administer the beating in secret. Fight back. Just keep fighting.
The liberal “queer theorists,” ultimately enemies of liberation, will tell you that you surviving alone is revolutionary. This, an insidious lie, was propagated to quell the idea that to be revolutionary there must be an objective of revolution. The bourgeois amongst LGBTQ+ will tell you that the goal is not the death of capitalist institutions that oppress us, it’s integration into them. For some of us, that may be possible. For them, that’s true. That capitalism has protected them, benefited them. For them, they would cut off your head to see their position protected.
Not every LGBTQ+ person will be an ally of the working class, and this pride is a time to assess, who are our allies, and who are our enemies. I know, you will find that without economic liberation there is no LGBTQ+ liberation. Without revolutionary theory there is no revolutionary practice. Without Marxism there is no LGBTQ+ liberation.
We will not be afraid to drive out the wolves in sheep’s clothing who seek to turn LGBTQ+ against the working class with myths of the reactionary nature of workers. We will not be afraid to turn on these, the true enemies of liberation, and to treat them as they are. We will drive out the gentrifiers, the capitalists, the police. We will remind them that Pride is not a celebration of a liberation that has never come. We will remind them that Pride means fight back.