This past weekend, San Francisco celebrated LGBT Pride Month with its annual parade and celebrations. Pride Month is representative of the famous Stonewall Riots that took place in New York City in 1970; These riots were led by Marsha P. Johnson, a transwoman, as resistance against police brutality and discrimination. The Stonewall Riots are widely accredited as the start of the modern gay liberation movement which later expanded into the larger LGBT rights movement.
Police brutality against LGBT people is still prominent to this day; Just last year autistic, transman Kayden Clarke was shot to death by Arizona police. Although the issues Stonewall was fighting are yet to be resolved it seems that nowadays Pride has shifted its meaning.
In San Francisco this past weekend the most exuberant floats in the parade were those of large corporations such as Google and Apple. With the corporate aspect of Pride parades increasing every year it seems that we are losing track of what Pride actually stands for. This year San Francisco Pride had 56 corporate sponsors meaning that the majority of the parade was nothing more than advertisement. Corporations are using pride as a cheap ploy to exploit another market without acknowledging the issues plaguing the people in said market. During the entirety of the Pride parade not a single corporation spoke out about the increasing murder of trans women of color or about the Pulse massacre that occurred just last year.
With the Pride becoming commercialized comes the profiteering off of LGBT+ people. Several events such as San Francisco’s Pride are non profit and free of cost but others such as Los Angeles Pride require a tickets that go for $25 dollars for a day and $35 for the weekend. Although to many this may not seem like a significant sum, it is important to keep in mind that 20.7% of all LGBT people are living under the poverty line. In addition, LGBT+ people make up 40% of the homeless youth population but only 7% of the general youth population. By charging for admission to Pride, it is made inaccessible to a large portion of the population it is supposed to be serving.
Andrew Ambrogi, spokesman for the nonprofit organization No Justice No Peace (NJNP) states, “For some time, there’s been a general sense that Pride has become more of a corporate festival rather than being true to Pride’s roots as resistance to state violence”
Another issue is police presence at Pride; As previously stated pride was originally meant to be a symbol of resistance against police oppression of LGBTQ people but in recent years police presence at Pride events has been unwavering. This weekend at San Francisco Pride, police officers took an active role in the parade as well as several officers patrolling the area during the event. Although progress has been made, brutality against LGBTQ people at the hands of law enforcement is still as present as ever. Within the prison system LGBTQ people are more likely to face horrendous conditions. Among trans inmates the reported assault rate is 24.4 compared to 12.12 for non-transgender inmates. Pride is meant to represent resistance against police brutality against the LGBT+ community and while this brutality is still present solidarity cannot be an option.
In the words of Martin Luther King Jr. “ The triple evils of poverty, racism and militarism are forms of violence that exist in a vicious cycle”. In order to achieve equality we must destroy the structural barriers that keep marginalized communities down.