There have been multiple calls for people to boycott the annual Pittsburgh Pride March as a show of solidarity with those in our community who are crying out against the Delta Foundation and the oppressive structures it represents.
Some have taken umbrage with that call, suggesting it is a divisive tactic that hurts the larger community rather than Delta and that it is more important to be present inside Pride with a different message.
These are not opposing views. There’s no one way to be at Pride or to have LGBTQ Pride. There never has been and there never will. Pride is a movement, not a moment. Movements are fluid and filled with people who have differences. It is not about “coming together as a community” – it is about building community in whatever space we occupy and occupying it for ourselves and for those who cannot be present.
There’s no right way to participate in Pittsburgh Pridefest 2015. It is fine to mourn the absence of those who choose not to participate, but let’s also remember that there are people who CANNOT participate because of the oppressive structures. It is fine to leaflet and protest at Pridefest, but let’s remember that some people choose to witness in different ways.
There are ways to be present at Pride that do cause harm and feed the belly of the oppressors, both internal and external to the community. Willful ignorance is a dangerous tool. Denial is also a tool that will only hurt your neighbors. Clicking your tongue about #divisive neighbors is a small-minded tactic that show little compassion and lots of insecurity. Why does it matter to you if people are present at Pride in a different way than you? Does it ruin things for you? If so, maybe it is more about the ideas they represent intruding into your peace of mind than their presence actually blocking your path to the best parade view.
I am planning to attend Pridefest to chronicle what I see. And, to be honest with you, to seek the sense of community that I want and need. I’ll just probably find it in atypical spaces.
RootsPride has brought a lot of significant questions to the forefront of the local conversation. One of those questions is “What is the role of Pridefest in the context of our current community?” Perhaps keep that in mind today as your participate however you choose.