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Do Pride Parades Hurt the Gay Rights Movement?

June is Gay Pride Month, a time when the LGBT community and its supporters celebrate its heritage, culture, and liberation. Cities around the world typically hold festive "pride parades" where members of the community show that they are proud of their sexuality and gender identity. But some supporters believe that the spirit of such parades furthers the stereotypes that homosexuals are flamboyant, sex-crazed deviants.

Writing in the Root, Cord Jefferson makes the point that the LGBT community should take cues from Martin Luther King, Jr. during this crucial moment in the struggle for equal rights. He points out that MLK dressed in gentleman's clothes, practiced his oration, and advocated nonviolence, because to do otherwise would have played into his detractors' expectations.

Jefferson thinks that the pride parades either entertain those who already support equal rights or feed into dangerous stereotypes. He writes:

Knowing that there are people — voters who have the power to deny them rights — who will judge them based on the flamboyance of their appearance in one parade, why hasn't the gay community decided to tone down the pride festivals?

It's impossible to compare civil rights struggles as perfect parallels. For more on this,


While the civil rights marches of the last century were somber occasions, pride parades are typically celebrations during which gay people proudly assert: "We're here, we're queer, get used to it." In addition, the parades are characterized by their diversity — one float may feature proudly, flamingly flamboyant dancers in skimpy outfits, and the next one could be the PFLAG float with gay parents and their children all dressed in khakis. (PFLAG is Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays.)

Ass-less chaps and thongs might not be appropriate at a rally protesting Prop. 8, for example, but does the LGBT community have to get rid of them altogether?


Join The Conversation
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 8 years
Very good points sloan. I think we most of us can agree that the foundation, the history and the ideal behind gay pride is great. It's the application that some have a problem with. Too many have replaced celebrating the ideal with just another reason to go out and party. Again I see it more so with gay men than any one. We really need to bring the spirit of the celebration back because IMO too many are taking it for granted.
hyzenthlay20 hyzenthlay20 8 years
Sloane, you rock!
Zivanod Zivanod 8 years
Well said Sloane! I'm sorry that you and other Americans have to go through those things. As a Canadian I am proud that I have been able to freely marry my wife of two years (legally) and in a few months when she gives birth, I, as the second parent, will legally be allowed to write my name down on the birth certificate as the second parent without having to go through any legal wranglings.
lickety-split lickety-split 8 years
this is why it's offensive. the post asked for our individual opinions, not just the ones you like. hostility isn't well received. you haven't convinced anyone w/ your diatribe. so much for tolerance, huh?
Briandiesel Briandiesel 8 years
Uh, Sloane is my hero :D
sham28 sham28 8 years
Hell yes, Sloane!
sloane220 sloane220 8 years
@anonymous- oh please, when did self expression and free speech EVER justify not having equal protection under the law. i'm a tax paying, law abiding american citizen and there are 30 states that can fire me for being lesbian, there are 44 states where i can't get married, get tax breaks, share my assests with partner, share insurance, get my partner a green card by marriage or protect any children we may have together without expensive legal wrangling. i still be gay bashed for my sexual orientation and gender expression without any federal law protecting me. these are few among the atrocities that lgbt face in our society. pride parades aren't the only public events that lgbt community has, but they do serve a purpose, they self affiming polictical statement of persevering in the face adversity. it's not about appealing to straight people, because everything isn't always about straight people, it's about lgbt folks coming to celebrate who you are in a country that barely tolerates your existence. and yes, i'm going to berate the people who voted for prop 8 as homophobic, ignorant, and intolerant because the moment you decide to make your prejudices negatively affect my life i'm going to have a problem with it. i don't have to do a damn thing to appease some conservative idiot to gain access to all the protections and benefits to which i'm entitled as an american. and that's why i don't believe that rights of a discriminated against minority should be voted on by the majority. discriminatory laws against minorities have always been overturned by the courts and that's what i expect to happen in this case, this needs to be settled in the courts not the ballot box.
sloane220 sloane220 8 years
lickety split- you should know what you're talking about before you discuss it. the gay pride parade began as an annual celebration of the stonewall rebellion in new york in 1969 which the vice squad police would raid gay bars arrest lgbt people and people who didn't at least have 3 "gender-appropriate" garments on, engage in wanton police brutality and beat people severely, expose people's sexuality putting their lives and jobs at risk, and rape some of the men and women they held in their custody. let me know when straight people have EVER gotten fired for their sexual orientation like they are allowed to in the milatary and 30 states. let me know when they aren't allowed to adopt children, get tax breaks, make medical decisions for their partner, share assets and insurance, face housing discrimination, and hate crimes where they are often violently maimed for their sexual orientation and gender expression. it's about self-affirmation in the face of adversity and discrimination. the WHOLE WORLD IS like a hetero-pride parade, everything is an affirmation of heterosexuality and straight sex. yes pride can be a sexually charged event, but it is also a political statement. and stop being ridiculous, you won't be seeing what people are doing with their partners sexually because no one is having sex in the street. having fun, yes. having sex, no.
lickety-split lickety-split 8 years
the gay pride parades are odd to me. it's like they are being as outrageous as possible just to shock people. do we have a hetro-pride parade? no we don't. i don't take "pride" in my sexuality, what is that about anyway? and i don't want to see what you do with your partners sexually. i find it disgusting to see men dressed up, not as women, but as a horror show version of women with excessive make-up and over teased hair, wearing high heels/short skirts and exposing hairy legs. then they yell x-rated comments at people watching the parade? seriously, stop.
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 8 years
I watch The Factor and I'm gay I also vote democratic 99% of the time. O'Reilly doesn't just have far right viewers folks. That's why his rating blow ever one else out of the water.
chatondeneige chatondeneige 8 years
Who cares about them? Unfortunately, sarahlynn, they're voters. So anyone looking for their votes should care about them.
mcjx3 mcjx3 8 years
being bisexual i can understand how the parades could hurt us but at the same time that is part of who we are. sure, there are many conservative lgbt people but there are many more "flamboyant" ones. i think the question here is, when will we be accepted for exactly who we are, no matter the circumstance?
sloane220 sloane220 8 years
pride is a celebration and an exhibiton of pride in the face of adversity. i would never tone down my self expression so i could convince some idiot to give me the rights that i'm entitled to as an american.
Beauty Beauty 8 years
I think pride parades are wonderful, and they shouldn't have to be toned down. That just smacks of "be gay, but not too gay" to me. And people shouldn't have to conform to someone else's view of what's acceptable in order to have equal rights. Besides, as others have said, pride events are pretty diverse. I've seen chaps, yeah, but I've also seen cute elderly couples who can finally be out and proud. So if anything, I think pride events can show people how varied and inclusive the LGBT community can be.
tlsgirl tlsgirl 8 years
I don't think that they hurt the gay rights movement. The sentence about diversity in the parades is extremely accurate - I went to DC's pride parade last weekend and it was a pretty equal mixture of tame and wild. In my own experience, the homophobes of the world are going to go right on wrongly believing whatever they want, so a little dancing in the streets certainly isn't making it worse.
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 8 years
I use to go to pride celebrations every year in the 90's but I stopped (some what) now I only go to the parade in the morning and come back home. I find the crowds that typically go to the parades are actually interested in celebrating pride where as the afternoon/evening crowd is more interested in getting drunk, partying (drugs), and finding a hook up. This is why I no longer go to the festival or street party it's just people sizing each other up for sex (mind you this is from a gay mans perspective) I'm sure it's a whole other story for the Lesbians. I also don't get why people are allowed to walk around buck @ss naked at Pride. What does walking around naked have to do with Gay Pride?
Briandiesel Briandiesel 8 years
Spacekat, he's a Colt porn star. :D Chris Wide.. I have no opinion on this matter.
Zivanod Zivanod 8 years
Toronto hosts the largest Pride parade in North America and although there are plenty of tourists there to gawk and giggle at men in tiny shorts, the corporate sponsorship and politic leaders that show up to support the community continue to prove how much the culture and the people are accepted and welcomed in Canada. If people want to see a toned down version, go to the Dyke March in Toronto held on the Saturday before Sunday's big parade. That one is meant to support gay families and grossroot community organizations.
sham28 sham28 8 years
I was JUST going to post the link to the Onion article too, leslievanhoute. The people who are looking for a reason to be nervous about the gay community are going to find it in men dancing in chaps. People that are all about freedom of sexuality probably won't find a lot of ammunition in the Pride festivities. At least that's my guess. And really, I would probably gratuitiously flaunt my sexuality if I didn't have the same rights, I'd be pissed.
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