Why Celebrate Pride?
Why Celebrate Pride?*
Yes, of course, because i ‘can’. And i admit this short film is riveting, and shows one or two areas, upon which particularly non-Western regions have come to public attention with some very troubling trends toward a worsening of the situation of LGBTI people.
The film however does not address, or perhaps consciously ignores an ongoing internal debate within the LGBTI context. The word “community” seems to be becoming euphemistic, as it has becomes increasingly clear that we are dealing with not one, but innumerable, very varied communities with a wide range of concerns and needs. This in turn has lead to the current debate by some involved in LGBTI advocacy, as to how, and to what extent the needs and concerns of the various LGBTI communities are being met or addressed. Some even point to fairness deficits in the hierarchy of priorities when LGBTI concerns are put forward that run along traditional inequity lines of race, gender, income, faith, national origin, access to formal education, etc.
At the same time it can be observed that there is a growing, increasingly influential commercial sector catering to and/or operated by primarily cis-male, gay self-defined individuals and organizations. Where the needs of any business community are well served by access to and cooperation with political institutions, and has a natural interest in stability, the concerns of the remainder of LGBTI oriented people may be less well served or even in contradiction to this status quo and commercially minded approach.
In Berlin we saw an illustrative example of this sort of conflict of interests in the split among the organizers of Berlin’s pride ‘event’, the CSD (Christopher Street Day – as pride parades are often called in Germany). In November of 2007 members of the CSD e.V. which organizes the annual pride event applied for a the registration of the name “Stonewall” as a registered trademark with the German patent office for registered trade marks, granting the exclusive rights to the commercial use of the word. This application was approved on 7 January 2014. The registration of the name “Stonewall” as a trademark met with sharp criticism by members of the CSD e.V. as well as by other LGBTI groups and individuals. The conflict of interests, and ensuing quarrel ended in a split in the CSD e.V. with some former members forming a separate Aktionsbündnis CSD, who then planned their own event set for the same date as the CSD e.V. event, but intended to focus more on LGBTI political, and social concerns. As there had already a split in the pride events several decades ago between the politically moderate, and more radical LGBTI advocates which lead to the forming of an ‘alternative’ CSD event in Berlins borough of Kreuzberg, 2014 saw three events of a similar nature with different focuses all set for 21 June 2014. A further ‘Dyke March’ event was set for the evening of the 20th. It will be very interesting to see whether this variability results in pluralism, for example a city wide celebration/demonstration with various focuses, or to the implosion of the event.
Commemorating past struggles for LGBTI rights, and integrity, does not have to omit a critical reassessment of the current concerns that many of us face, does not have to be a platform for righteous finger-wagging over the ‘backwardness’ of foreign countries, does not have to be dominated by muscle-bound flag-waving – rainbow or otherwise, nor an occasion to sell alcoholic beverages to the otherwise chronically inebriated. Commemoration can offer the opportunity to take stock of what has been a done and what still needs to be addressed, as well as issues that have arisen since the dawn of the struggle for destigmatization and decriminalization of sexual and gender diversity, and that all can be done before, whilst and after we all get drunk and screw.
* Video attributed to Adam Joseph though i can find no such video on Josephs home page.
Youtube page says: 23.06.2014, Performed by Adam Joseph, Recorded, Mixed and Mastered at AudioRepublica Studios