I came across an interesting article that someone reposted on social media and it raised my curiosity. The article was written to straight allies about not coming to Pride unless you understand some things first. A couple of people who reposted the article also added additional comments of what not to do.
Intrigued, I read through the article. I agreed with most of the points that were made, namely, understanding that the first Pride was a police riot (very important), Pride is not a venue for a “girls night out” or bachelorette parties (also very important), and that a dyke bar during Pride is not the place to look for a unicorn (and yes).
However, there were a couple of points that didn’t sit well with me.
One of those is regarding not taking pictures without permission. Now I can see some people’s points of view and I believe that consent should be asked before photographing anyone, even in public. However, you are attending a public event and within every pocket of each spectator is the latest smartphone with the coolest camera just waiting to document every second of life on any number of social media platforms. The Grand Floral Parade is happening this week in Portland. It is televised and while no one will give their consent to be on television, they are front and center on my 4k HD smart TV. I believe people just need to be mindful. If someone comes up to you for a close-up without asking and you feel uncomfortable, just politely inform them to please stop you didn’t give consent. Those with cameras should be mindful. If you want to get close-ups of someone’s wild attire, ask them first.
Here is a comment I have seen being tossed around: “If you’re straight, don’t wear Pride gear or fly the gay flag because the rainbow is not yours.”
The rainbow flag is a symbol of all the messed up shit that the LGBTQ+ community has been through and still is going through. But who is the gatekeeper of this symbol anyway? I don’t mind who flies the rainbow flag or dons gay rainbow attire. If you stand with the LGBTQ+ community and what the rainbow stands for and want to fly it proudly, then I say “go for it!” Walk down Davie Street in Vancouver, BC, and you will see the rainbow flag being flown from just about every business for as far as the eye can see. Wouldn’t you want to live in a city where you can walk down the street and see the rainbow flag being flown from almost every business and house? I have straight friends that have a Trans child, and they wear rainbow gear and fly the rainbow flag to support their child and the community. Who is it hurting when our allies fly the rainbow flag?
I reached out to some older LGBTQ people who grew up in the ’60s to get their thoughts on the flying of the rainbow flag. Their consensus was, “We need all the allies we can rally. Being so petty as to tell them they can’t fly a Pride flag is, again, pitting us vs. them. Get over it! It says you support what the flag stands for, not particularly that you are part of the gay community.”
There is one last thing that I want to say. What is written below was taken from a Facebook post in my own community. I reached out to the person who wrote this and asked if I could use it.
“Hello my LGBTQ Portlandia friends, I have a serious question about Pride. (Please delete if this isn’t allowed!) I’m a queer cisgender woman in a hetero-presenting relationship. Someone recently told me that, even though I identify as a queer woman and have dated and loved all types of people across the spectrum, I shouldn’t be affectionate (simple things like hand-holding, hugs, ect., nothing crazy), towards my current partner, a cisgender man, at Pride, because that space isn’t for “straight affection” and love. Is this correct? Should I save that for outside the event? Should I not bring my partner at all and just celebrate my own queerness by myself or with a friend? Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks so much!”
I came out of the closet at 39 and I was free to be whom I was meant to be, to live the life I was meant to live and celebrate myself as a gay man. How dare we as a community stuff other people into a closet when we have all left our own! What happened to “Love is Love”? How did we become a community of “us and them”? I will have straight friends at Pride this year and if they want to dress in rainbows and show straight affection toward one another, then more power to them. Those straight allies love and accept my husband and me for who we are, along with anyone else who wants to love whom they want to love. Love is love no matter what form it’s in. Let’s celebrate that instead of tearing it down.