Queer History: June
As ever, June is a huge month for the growing queer family. The progress of our march towards equality becomes embodied around the world in parades, and it is the time when we look back on our history with an urge to celebrate the distance traveled, galvanizing efforts and community for the road yet to walk.
Pride events, as of this writing, are still underway in cities around the world, and now seems like a wonderful time to take a look at the celebrations you may not have heard of.
First, as a reminder, the reason June is Pride Month in most locales is because of the 1969 Stonewall Riots, an event that still generates a great deal of controversy, within the community and without. The ongoing struggle to make Pride more inclusive is often predicated on debates over its very origins, how much was owed to the radical queers and trans folk of a generation ago, or how much of the fight for rights depends on assimilation and respectability politics.
But you may not be aware that June is not the only Pride month out there! Moscow, since 2006, has sought to maintain its own Pride parade in May, to reflect the decriminalization of homosexuality in 1993. Every year, their efforts have met with strong resistance from Moscow city hall, the Russian state generally, and fascist attacks. And yet, every year, they return to organize and fight.
Meanwhile, as parts of the world fight to hold any events whatsoever, in the places where Pride is now a long standing tradition, counter culture movements have emerged. In the US, the UK, Sweden, many places have seen a resurgence of anti-capitalist, anti-assimilation opinion. Berlin saw the notable appearance of Judith Butler refusing a gay pride award on these grounds, accusing the organizers of marginalizing the poor, the radical, and people of color. Similarly, Glenn Greenwald looked askance across “The Pond” to San Francisco’s venerable Pride event, decrying the commercialization and erasure of meaningful politics. With the US military recruiting at SF pride this year, there are surely many questions we should be asking.
On a somewhat humorous note, and as many have pointed out, this is also the time of year when people who DO NOT GET IT always ask “Why isn’t there a straight pride parade?” At least one locale tried this out, as a Sao Paolo city councilman sought to make a straight pride event for Brazil, scheduled for the 3rd Saturday in December. Since publicizing his effort in 2011, however, not one event has taken place. Gee, maybe heterosexual, cisgendered people don’t genuinely face broad institutional shame for their sexuality or gender identity? But maybe we’ll see. Boston has chosen this year for its first “ex-gay pride” event, and who knows how many blissfully happy former queers will come. I suspect a great deal more “allies” than anything else, but Queereka is a place for skeptics like myself. Maybe former employees of Exodus will help line the streets.
Still other places are just this year ecstatic to see the fruits of organization and their very first Pride events. From smaller places like San Mateo County in California, to entire nations like the Ukraine, the world is finding more and more every year to be proud of, to fight for, and new families to define what it is to love, what home looks like. Seattle’s first dedicated Trans Pride event comes as well, organized by my favorite Justice League out there, even if the more famous one has Wonder Woman! Their local baseball team, the Mariners, is flying the rainbow at their stadium too, no less.
Send in your own city, town, county, province, street, tribe, nation or even just your family or your self celebrating Pride, with or without the capital “P”, and let’s make every year a celebration to remember.
Featured image is of Nikolay Alexeyev at the Moscow Pride Press Conference, 16 May 2008, from wikicommons