LA Pride has come a long way in such a short time. Just one year ago, a group called #NotOurPride formed in opposition to the LA Pride organizing committee, Christopher Street West’s (CSW) efforts to rebrand Pride as a music festival–also derailing certain spaces for lesbian and transgender programming. In the eleventh hour, an agreement was reached between #NotOurPride members and CSW and the celebration was reinvigorated with historical context and inclusionary spaces in place. I was present for many of the #NotOurPride meetings, prepared to participate in direct actions had our concerns not been addressed. And then the news struck the morning of LA Pride…
As if a deeply tribal force re-entered our collective conscious, we were drawn together by the news of Pulse, Orlando massacre. Swept away were the frivolities of music festival line-ups and inter-committee arguments. Our community was a specific target in the deadliest mass shooting in American history. Our humanity was immediately threatened and as it became politicized, we were suddenly disenfranchised from the conversation; the actual issue of anti-LGBT belief systems were supplanted for a more palatable concept: gun control.
Here we are a year later. I am actively involved in the #ResistMarch, which will take place of the traditional parade, and will oversee a portion of the route with hundreds of volunteers. I say this because I was reluctant to be a part of a “resist” anything. You see, Pride is my favorite “holiday.” I lost everything when I came out as a teenager and have become myself because of the trans, gay, bi, lesbian and ally mentors and friends who have nudged me along. I was resentful that our celebration of each other had to be set aside so we could “resist” something.
If you’ve ever been to a Pride you know that the air is light, the sound is joyful. The colors and scenes are vibrant, bold, unabashed. We are undeniable. That’s the point of Pride. We were no longer content with living in the shadows of society, cast to the dark corners of hidden bars and living under a cultural assumption that our lives were a string of unhappy and lurid depictions of sexual promiscuity and anonymity. We were free. Light. Bold. Compassionate. Powerful. And our very presence was expanding the world’s definition of love, thus increasing societies capacity for acceptance.
Since the elections in November, marches have sprung up in countless cities. Folks who are newly donning activist identities are like children protesting their parents by doing sit-ins in their own bedroom. The only point they make is that they are upset. They have forgotten that despite all comforts and privileges that invisibly tie them to their home, they could, in fact, go outside and start living their way. But they have yet to develop the creative capacity and wisdom to know how, so they want to change their captors who also serve as their protectors. We march to resist a system that could have just as well rewarded us had we been more creative with our selections. We “resist.” But what the hell are we actually resisting? We talk about Trump and compare him to Hitler as if that was the only dictator that ever lived. We are so busy banging on the cell bars demanding to be let out that we forgot to ask if anyone had a key.
Resist what?! We aren’t playing red rover; there is no force barreling at us as we cling violently to each other’s hands fearing the aftermath of a broken grasp. At least nothing that hasn’t always been there. We are stunted only by our inadequacy to create a new alternative. Also, marching is not resisting. Walking around our friendly downtowns isn’t radical. It’s a demonstration of solidarity but groundbreaking would require something new. It certainly harkens back to the earliest of Pride protest in which visible demonstrations were radical for a group relegated to basements and backrooms—a wedge the #NotOurPride group was willing to drive into the LA LGBT community, because, when we forget, we must relive. Hence, now.
But the point was to let our light shine through. We march to resist the dimming of our lights. We march to resist making enemies of our neighbors. We must start thinking differently. Start thinking about our future the way we want it and stop wasting time trying to undo the work that’s already in motion. Stay in our own lane and make things happen. That’s how progress happens, by staying out of the agendas of others and whole heartedly chasing our own destiny.
It is this that we lend to the world on June 11th. We lend this indomitable sense of unity and acceptance for all. Let’s be less concerned about who we are standing up against and more concerned with whom we stand up for. Inclusion? Come. Diversity? You’re welcome here. Unity? Let’s party. Let’s remember that unity holds no value without different components coming together. Otherwise, it’d just be uniformity.
As the #ResistMarch organizers explain, we are lending our rainbow flag for all of those who have been targeted or left out of the conversations happening at the White House. My community is uniquely designed to represent the best in all walks of life, and we encourage you to walk with us, not to start a war, but as our founder Brian Pendleton said, “to send a clear message that we will resist being divided from each other.”