Photo: Sasha Kargaltsev
1. The first Pride was a police riot.
We hold Pride each summer to commemorate the Stonewall Riots of 1969. At the time, most states had laws banning LGBT people from assembling in groups. Despite being illegal, the mob opened LGBT bars to profit off of the open discrimination of our community. The bars were the only safe space for LGBT people and were frequently raided by police officers looking for bribes. Tired of harassment and discrimination, the patrons of The Stonewall protested and began a series of actions that turned into several days of riots. At its peak, more than 1,000 people took to the streets of Greenwich Village in one of the first organized displays of LGBT protest. The mostly transgender patrons of color at The Stonewall are credited with starting the LGBT civil rights movement.
So you’ll see sequins, rainbows, parade floats and pool parties sponsored by Absolut, but understand that Pride is equal parts a celebration, a protest, and a community building event. It’s the one time a year when we can come together and be surrounded by the family we choose. Because our bodies and our identities are still policed by the government, religious groups, and even the people we love, we reserve Pride as the opportunity to express ourselves in the way that is most authentic to our community. Sometimes that’s by drunkenly singing Robyn songs at the top of our lungs and sometimes it’s by crying during the eulogy for our murdered trans sisters. We are allowed to have multiple feelings simultaneously as we celebrate our wins and mourn our losses as a community.
2. A dyke bar during Pride is not the place to look for your unicorn.
As a femme-presenting queer woman, I’ve been hit on by cisgender men and couples in queer settings more times than I can count. Some queer women are attracted to men, some aren’t. We go to LGBT spaces to be around other LGBT people and celebrate our identity with people who are like us. Sure, there may be people who are interested in your advances, but there will also be people who will be offended and made to feel unsafe. Pride should first and foremost be a safe space for LGBT people. Keep this in mind and consider arranging your menage trois with folks who say they are interested online before the events.
3. Do not take pictures or Snaps of us without permission.
You’re going to see leather folks, drag performers, transgender people, non-binary people, nakedness, gender fuckery and some wild outfits. We’re not here to be a spectacle for you. We’re here to celebrate with folks who are like us. Don’t post photos of us on social media as a way to be “edgy” or to show your “superior open-mindedness.” And don’t make fun of us on the internet. We don’t exist for your amusement.
4. If your thought process is “gays are okay but I don’t get the whole trans thing…”
…Don’t come to Pride.
5. Pride is not the appropriate venue for your “girl’s night,” your bachelorette party or your misogyny.
Lots of straight women have told me that they love going to gay bars because they can dance and celebrate without the presence of come-ons from men. I’ve seen drunken sorority girls climb on stage and attempt to make the show about them. I’ve seen women get a bit too intoxicated and attempt to make out or grope gay men slurring “You’re gay so it doesn’t count…” I’ve seen equally disgusting actions with gay men and lesbians, so let’s not pretend anyone is the innocent party here. I once went to Splash in NYC with a couple of my gay male friends and was told “Fish wasn’t allowed inside.” I could go on for hours about homophobic and misogynist actions in LGBT spaces, but I’ve got a word count to stick within. Instead, I’ll leave you with an article from Slate about straight women and drag culture and another one from Broadly about gay men who hate women.
6. You’re a guest in our space, act accordingly.
The important take-away here is not that LGBT people hate straight/cis folks. It’s not even about the presence of straight/cis folks at Pride in general. It’s about when straight/cis folks behave in inappropriate and culturally insensitive ways that threaten or dampen the experiences of LGBT people at events that are made for us in the first place. Straight/cis folks can go to any party and feel comfortable dancing, holding hands, and making out with their significant other (or hottie of the night) without feeling like they could be in danger because of their identity. LGBT people do not always have that luxury. If you choose to go to Pride, be a supportive observer and participate in activities, but don’t try to be the focus of the event.