Statement on Pride 2019
It has been 50 years since the Stonewall riots. It has been 50 years since in the US, many of those that came before us stood up and showed the world that they had had enough. It has been 50 years since those that came before us highlighted how the nation-state and its violence stands against what true queer liberation really means.
And here in Europe, while the legalization of gay marriage in many European countries such as Germany and the UK have been hailed as liberating progresses, there is a clear paradox between the state and its people. There is a clear paradox between the demand to assimilate and adhere to heteronormative, neo-liberal, patriarchal values, whilst simultaneously marginalizing the people who do not fit into this norm. The nation-state needs to be protected in order to exist. The nation-state needs an “other” in order to legitimize its existence. The nation-state needs to be violent to what doesn’t fit into its norm, in order to exist. The nation-state needs to perfect its image as a modern, progressive super-power, while othering everything else as backwards, in order to exist. The nation-state needs assimilation to the nuclear family in order to exist. The nation-state needs to protect its newly liberated white queers against the “homophobic migrant” in order to exist. The nation-state needs profit, exploitation and mindless consumption in order to exist.
So, while others today are out commercializing and profiting off of 50 years of Stonewall, we have come together today, because for us, 50 years marks how globally, people within our communities are still continually and systematically suffering. We are here, because we are frustrated. We are here, because we are tired. We are here, because the fight never was over for us. We are here, because here in Europe the white cis-hetero-patriarchal standards that have been normalized around us are violently racist, violently othering and violently damaging to the people in our communities. We are here because pink-washing is ugly. We are here, because we are not a product to be marketed, but real people with emotions and feelings. We are here, because we do not want our bodies to be used as an excuse to legitimize the violence against others. We are here because we believe in better. We believe in a standard that is better than the one that has been normalized around us.
And we are here, because we care about our future. When people tell us that there are bigger issues to concentrate on than on queer liberation, you go and tell them that survival and freedom depends on queer liberation. The same capitalist, neo-liberal project that is destroying the environment around us is what is destroying ourselves. It destroys our humanity, our compassion, and our care. It turns love into profit. It turns people into brands. This destructive project rears its ugly head through the nation-state, through police brutality and violence, through convincing those that do have privilege and can live comfortably that this is just “the best way”. It creates a society of people in positions of power, a society of people who have agency, who have privilege, to stay docile. It brainwashes us to be complicit and apathetic not just to other people within our own communities, but also to the world around us. This is not the “best way”. It is ugly and destructive, and to be honest, we are way better than that.
In 1973 in the US, 4 years after the Stonewall riots, Sylvia Rivera, a trans woman of color, stood up at a gay rights rally and exclaimed how she’d been fighting all day to just get on stage for “your gay brothers and your gay sisters in jail.” It has been nearly 50 years since Sylvia spoke about how her gay brothers and sisters “write me every week and ask for your help.” It has been 50 years since she explained how “y’all don’t do a goddamn thing for them.” She asked “have you ever been beaten and raped in jail? Did you do anything for them?” It has been nearly 50 years ago since she stood up at a gay rights rally and was booed, while she fought to get on stage to speak about she had been beaten, had her nose broken, was thrown in jail, had lost her job and her apartment, for queer liberation. It has been nearly 50 years since she struggled to even get to the mic. She shouted and demanded that “y’all better quiet down”, just so she could get a word in to tell the crowd about the struggle of her especially trans brothers and sisters.
So today let’s show the people that fought with their lives before us some respect by rising to the challenge and taking the mic, while we still have our voices. Let’s show the people who fight with their lives every day some respect, by rising to the challenge. Let’s stand up for those who are continually rendered voiceless and without agency some respect, by rising to the challenge. Let’s not be docile, complicit and apathetic to the violence around us. We are better than that. Pride is political.