It’s often said that the first Pride was a riot. And that’s true, insofar as modern Pride commemorates the uprising at Stonewall and the throwing, en masse, of bricks at cops. But perhaps more importantly, the first Pride was a fun, casual night on the town that went up in flames because straight people didn’t know when to mind their fucking business and back the fuck off.
And in that sense, this year’s Pride Month was a fitting tribute. Which is to say: it sucked. It sucked in a monumental, cataclysmic way, sucked in a way that demands all people of conscience to ask how we can keep anything like it from ever happening again. Like, we simply can’t go on like this. If Pride — and notice how it’s only “Pride” now, not “Gay Pride” or “Queer Pride” or even “LGBT Pride,” but the safe, sanitized, corporate-friendly “Pride” — continues to be a parade of Budweiser floats drenched in rainbows and driven by Crab People, then, sincerely: what the fuck is the point of Pride?
And why, two years into the fucking Trump administration, when our rights are under serious, potentially world-ending attack, is this what Pride looks like? Doesn’t this moment of crisis demand more than white Skittles and fourth-rate Taylor Swift jingles?
In a month full of miserable nonsense, these ten things stood out as especially miserable and nonsensical. Without further ado, from least to most serious, here are the Top Ten Crab People of Pride Month 2019:
10. John Waters Coming Out As Transphobic
I agree, John! Transgender children have had it too good for too long! We need to vigorously reinforce gender normativity on gender non-conforming children so they can endure years of brutal repression and then, in adulthood, once irreversible secondary sex characteristics have taken root, they can experience social rejection, grinding poverty, and epidemic mental illness and suicidality! Hell yeah! The real bigots are the many, many, many parents who are not only comfortable with their infant sons wearing dresses, but inclined to drag said sons kicking and screaming, against their will, to a Big Trans clinic for immediate gender reassignment surgery. This is absolutely a real thing that is happening and definitely a major cause for concern in an epoch where Donald Trump would be, like, openly murdering queers on the street if he could get away with it.
9. Neil Gaiman
I haven’t watched Good Omens, the new TV series based on Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett’s novel of the same name — but why would I watch anything when watching Neil Gaiman engage in endless acts of homophobic dipshittery is infinitely more entertaining?
Yes, Neil. The two main characters of your TV show, who appear at all times as human men, who look, speak, and act like human men, who are played by real-life human men Michael Sheen and David Tennant, are not human men, but supernatural creatures, and therefore, nobody is allowed to interpret them as gay.
…But hold on, interpreting your totally-not-human-men supernatural characters as gay “robs men of intimate affection outside of romantic context,” huh? If they’re not men, why would reading them as gay rob men of anything, Neil? And why are you sincerely arguing that society has robbed men of the ability to express intimate affection when, categorically, the most represented relationship in popular media is platonic friendship between men? Gee, dude, should have spent a little more time weaving together the threads of that gossamer-thin wisp of a veil for your flagrant homophobia!
Ah, but wait, his characters can be trans! Not trans in the icky “transitioning from one gender to another” sense, like the real-world oppressed people who desperately need validation and representation from popular media, but, like, the snake-to-demon sense.
8. Where Do I Even Begin With Taylor Swift
Let me preface this by saying that I am calm. Very calm. I am writing this while tucked up in bed, eating an ice cream sundae, after a nice, relaxing day of writing and watching movies with friends. I am personally and professionally satisfied in my day-to-day life. I know that Taylor Swift has attempted to inoculate herself against criticism by titling the song “You Need to Calm Down,” and I know that her army of stans — among whom I used to count myself; I paid real, human money to attend the Taylor Swift reputation Stadium Tour — has leapt into the mentions of any and all critics by spamming them with “u need 2 calm down,” which, by the way, is definitely not something that calm people do. But I need to make it clear that I am presently calm, and yelling, “You need to calm down” at me is not going to be a successful rhetorical tactic.
Now, I have a lot of dear, dear friends who love Taylor Swift — and again, I used to love her, too, devotedly — and a lot of these friends are gay, bi, and trans, and they sincerely appreciate Taylor Swift’s allyship, and I don’t want to hurt my friends’ feelings. So I’ll try to keep this civil.
- If you’re going to write a gay pride anthem, write a gay pride anthem. Absolutely do not write a song where the first verse says “people are mean to me” and the second verse says “people are mean to gay people” and the chorus says “being mean to me and being mean to gay people are morally equivalent acts.”
- If you’re going to tie your gay pride anthem to a political action, I’m so sorry, but you have to do better than asking people to sign a Change.org petition for a piece of D.O.A. legislation that is absolutely guaranteed to die on the desk of President Donald Trump if it doesn’t die on the Republican Senate floor first, which, spoiler alert, it will. I don’t think I’m out of line in saying that people with enormous power and influence who seek to involve themselves in political action should invest their time and energy in action that has more than a snowball’s chance in hell of success. There are lots and lots and lots of things Taylor Swift could have done to materially improve the lives of LGBTQ people in America; gathering signatures for legislation that will never pass is not one of them!
- Lots of people — including dear friends of mine, including adult media professionals who should know better — are convinced that Taylor Swift is secretly closeted, and that “You Need to Calm Down” is proof positive that she is gay or bisexual and living in “the glass closet.” I don’t know how to tell you people that rounding up Laverne Cox, Todrick Hall, Hayley Kiyoko, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, the entire cast of Queer Eye, Adams Rippon and Lambert, Ellen DeGeneres, Billy Porter, RuPaul, and half a dozen Drag Race queens to be in a music video where you sing “Why be mad when you can be GLAAD?” proves nothing except that Taylor Swift is terminally, incurably heterosexual.
Okay, and here’s something I don’t feel any need to be civil about: Jade Jolie, who portrays Taylor Swift in the “You Need to Calm Down” video, once starred in a neo-Nazi themed adult film! And took pictures doing the Nazi salute in full Nazi uniform! And Jade Jolie confirmed it was her and said she was “not sorry” about it!
Love that! Love that for the gay community!
7. Fucking Endless Debates About Whether or Not Puppy Play Belongs at Pride
For all the interminable hand-wringing about whether or not children’s heads will explode if they see a leather daddy at Pride, the solution to this problem is so obvious it hurts: separate Pride events that celebrate adult sexuality from family-friendly Pride events. It is literally that simple. When I volunteered at Ottawa Pride, there was a family area at the south end of the festival grounds with face-painting, balloons, and Drag Queen Story Time. At the north end of the festival grounds, there were leather demos, a nudist beer garden, and adults barking at each other. See how easy that was?
6. Coming Out Via A Monetized Endorsement Deal
Jonathan Van Ness of Queer Eye coming out as non-binary: hooray!
Jonathan Van Ness of Queer Eye coming out as part of a spon-con deal with a nail polish manufacturer to sell cosmetics to non-binary people: absolutely unconscionable! A new low in Crab Peoplehood!
Alex Verman wrote a very, very good piece about this over at Daily Xtra, and I will quote them at length:
My problem is not that some trans people got a couple thousand dollars for corporate shilling. Rather, I am uncomfortable with how smoothly and painlessly this plainly transactional relationship has been packaged as a form of activism, a dead-eyed and clickably commercial call to action emanating from the same people who simultaneously flood their social media platforms with the insistence that “Stonewall was a riot.” Maybe so. But when trans people are still dying due to criminalization and poverty, what use is any form of “activism” that does not call it out, work to defeat it and hold it accountable? What merit is there to activism that only demands we buy more, not change the policies that kill us?
It’s easy for companies to score progressive points by creating a wider market for their products, and it’s easy for influencers to treat their money-making platforms as outlets for social change. But it is not activism, and it does very little to improve the circumstances of those who are so often forgotten by the LGBTQ2 mainstream — sex workers, immigrants, those in prison and trans people of colour who don’t have the kind of capital or status necessary to insulate themselves from the violence of racism and transphobia. Now that Pride month has come to a close, it’s worth asking why we accept that consumer choice is all we have at our disposal to advocate for improved conditions for transgender people. ”Visibility” is not enough.
5. The Whole Carlos Maza Thing
Really fucking bold of Google and YouTube to drape their websites in rainbow branding and march in Pride parades while doing absolute jack-shit about homophobic bigots who build their entire “careers” around calling gay journalists “fags” and “lispy queers!” Even that’s underselling the severity of the harassment; watch the video and you’ll see a pattern of ongoing, unrepentant hatred directed at a single person who has done absolutely nothing wrong except be a visibly gay Latino.
Should YouTube have closed this schmuck’s channel over this? Deleted the videos? Temporarily suspended the videos and given the dude the option to edit out the hurtful content? I’d be a lot more willing to have calm debates about free speech if YouTube wasn’t also hosting hordes of literal Neo-Nazis who push holocaust denial and phrenology on teenagers looking for Fortnite Let’s Plays!
In conclusion, follow the only good YouTuber, ContraPoints:
4. ICE’s Special Camp Just For Trans Women
Multiple trans women have died in ICE custody, but that’s not going to stop ICE from bragging about their shiny new prison just for trans women!
3. Too Many Fucking Idiotic Ad Campaigns to Mention
Lots and lots of contenders for the worst of the bunch here, but I’d like to talk about an unsung hero: the Liquor Control Board of Ontario, whose Pride campaign:
a) does not mention gay people;
b) is indistinguishable from a normal ad campaign for alcohol;
c) preys on the LGBT community’s long history of alcoholism and substance abuse;
d) bastardizes the symbolism of the rainbow flag by representing each colour as alcohol;
e) represents the pink triangle, a symbol which originated in Nazi concentration camps, as liquor in a martini glass.
Sadly, all of this is pretty standard for Pride ad campaigns! If you peek inside the corporate playbook, it pretty much just says:
Step One: Put a rainbow on it.
Step Two: ???
Step Three: Profit.
Good God, I’m recycling a lot of South Park jokes for this piece.
2. The Cops
1. Nobody Remembers the Point of Stonewall, Apparently
At an official event commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, the openly bisexual gun violence activist and school shooting survivor Emma Gonzalez was forced to cut her speech short because the event had run overtime and the police were threatening to shut it down.
Literally, an event designed to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of a historical moment in which LGBT people rose up against police… was shut down. By police.
A few nights earlier, a black trans woman briefly interrupted a drag show at Stonewall to read the names of all the black trans women who have been murdered in 2019… and the crowd threatened to call the cops on her.
What makes this incident even more upsetting than the Emma Gonzalez episode is that, this time, it was, presumably, actual LGBT people threatening to call the police on one of their own. We can’t blame this one on straight people; the bullshit is coming from inside the house.
Truly, sincerely, fuck this Pride Month. If this was a test of our spiritual mettle during a presidential administration devoted to cutting down our rights, we failed miserably. Straight allies, step it up. Cis allies, step it the fuck up.
In conclusion, the only thing that did not suck about this Pride Month was that I spent the first day of it swimming fully nude in the Mediterranean Sea on an absolutely flawless day on the beach in Barcelona before drying myself off and going to a Lizzo concert on a different beach in Barcelona. There, Lizzo cried out, “Anybody ever dated a fuckboy? What about a fuck-girl? What about a fuck, uh, they-or-them? Like, gender-non-conforming? Hey, they’re an asshole, too!”
For the rest of 2019: more of that energy, less of The Cops.