There have been a slew of think pieces following the tragedy in Orlando, and I think Huw Lemmey's simple but pointed piece in the LRB says it best: Pride has been depoliticized, and we must recognize that the violence toward LGBT people targets its most marginalized--trans and people of color. Read Lemmey in partial below, or in full via the LRB.
The Stonewall riots precipitated a huge upsurge in LGBT consciousness. Both radical and reformist LGBT groups existed before the riots, but after them there was a boom in such militant groups as the Gay Liberation Front and STAR (Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries). Stonewall also provided the impetus for the first Gay Day and Christopher Street Liberation Day protests, the direct precursors of Gay Pride (now renamed Pride in London). Pride marches are still traditionally held in June to commemorate the raid.
But Pride’s radical anti-establishment roots are barely visible today. Early Prides saw placards railing against fascism and police harassment, and calling for the liberation of gay people; at today’s Pride you’re just as likely to see police officers and soldiers marching in uniform, representatives of the arms industry in corporate T-shirts and, for the first time this year, a flyover of military jets.
Radicals see this as a violent and exclusionary takeover of a liberation struggle by capital’s most reactionary institutions; liberals see it as a mark of society’s progress, with LGBT people now enjoying many of the rights and protections once denied us. For one group, Pride is a celebration of an anti-cop riot, representing the fundamental disconnect between LGBT people and heterosexual society. For another, Pride is the world’s biggest party, representing a spirit of judgment-free inclusiveness, if only for a day. Both are right.
Pride is a negotiated and contested event, not a ritual of fixed meaning and politics. It emerged not as a plea for acceptance, but as a radical assertion of our existence and a demand for recognition on our own terms: ‘We’re here, we’re queer, get used to it.’ That remains its strength; lacking the fixed meaning of, say, an Orange Order parade, the event is shaped by the queer culture of its age. Demanding that Pride be a political event is futile; it can only ever be as political as the culture it emerges from. If we want a more radical Pride, we must work to highlight everyday racism, misogyny and transphobia in our own scenes, raise awareness of the economic and material challenges LGBT people face, and organise against homophobia and transphobia from straight people.
*Image via comingoutfromthebadge.com