I kinda hate Pride. Yeah, there’s the whole corporate takeover of what was once a rallying cry for validity and freedom and respect. And, sure, cis white people are pretty terrible at sharing space with the people of color and trans folk on whose backs our liberation was built. Those issues are pretty big deals. But that’s not why I can’t stand Pride.
I used to say I hated Pride because I didn’t feel shame so why would I feel pride? That was cute for my twenties. But now I’m old and I can admit a certain measure of pride. Mostly it has to do with watching my students grow from scared baby queers into adult-sized brave baby queers. On rare occasions, I’ll do something that makes me proud of me. You know, important stuff like styling my hair into a perfect quiff. Or nailing hollandaise.
I have pretty solid priorities.
As a young, fresh queer, I never attended Pride. Mostly because I hate crowds and I hate loud noise and I hate parades so the concept of Pride is pretty much horrifying. My first Pride was over a decade after I came out. I was 27 and could no longer ignore that it would simply be good marketing to attend. So I asked my publisher to buy a booth. I invited other NorCal authors. I made a very long list of supplies that included sunscreen (twice) and duct tape (once) because I’m very pale and super gay. I spent the day actively trying to talk to people. Like, actively. Basically, my worst nightmare, but louder and more exhausting. And people kept walking by with beer, but I couldn’t have any beer because I was too busy convincing the masses that reading is cool while trying to be charming. Also, selling books. So many, in fact, that my wife had to go back to our place and bring more books because I’d sold out. Depending on how you look at it, the whole day was wildly successful. Or whatever.
The next year I went, my students started coming by the booth. I’d refuse to sell them my books, meet their parents (this is what queer teens in the 21st century do. They bring their parents to Pride. It’s disgustingly adorable), send them on their way. This year, my kids participated in the march, volunteered in booths, THEN walked through Pride with their parents. (I might be mildly proud that they are both activists and children simultaneously. Maybe.) I think the ultimate kid spotting this year was the mom and kid with the kid’s ex-girlfriend and the ex-girlfriend’s new girlfriend. If that’s not the gayest thing I’ve ever seen, I don’t know what is. We don’t need to bother recruiting and training. They become that gay all on their own. So I guess that part doesn’t suck.
The real reason I don’t like Pride is far more simple. It’s that, when I finally am able to break away from the booth, show my ID to twelve different people, get a wristband that swears I’m old enough for an adult beverage, I’m given two options: Budweiser and Bud Light. If those are your only beer options, you made a wrong turn somewhere in life.
I mean, I’ll drink it anyway. But still.