Pride started with uproar, but has since evolved into something joyous and celebratory.
The LGBTQ-rights movement hit a watershed moment in 1969 with the Stonewall Riots in New York. The uprising that followed after police officers raided a popular gay bar, the Stonewall Inn, coalesced into organization and the first Pride parade. That parade was more of an all-out protest against oppression of LGBTQ people than a party, but in 2018, Pride is a major celebration, complete with corporate sponsorships and mainstream performers.
Regardless of how it’s celebrated, Pride can mean many different things to many different people. City Paper has always covered the LGBTQ community, but CP doesn’t speak for LGBTQ Pittsburghers.
Let’s hear what Pride means to them.
Brian Broome - Writer
At my first Pride, I was terrified. It was just a regular Saturday afternoon in Pittsburgh. People on the sidelines heckled and threatened us and I felt vulnerable and exposed. There couldn’t have been more than 50 of us. It’s not like that now, obviously. Pride is a big party that I feel I’ve aged out of. It feels corporate sponsored, like the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. When I think about Pride, I think about the old Pride, I guess. And now, I support it from afar. I wrote an essay about it in Pittsburgh Pride Magazine. You should read it.
Angela Flowers - Queer Socialists Working Group, Democratic Socialists of America
The roots of Pride are in resistance, not who can throw the biggest party or wave the biggest banner. It means nothing for a company to sponsor a parade while they poison our environment and back any bigoted politician who helps their bottom line. Painting a rainbow flag on a police car is not a celebration, but a cruel mockery of the queer sex workers and homeless folks who see those same cars as symbols of oppression. As socialists, we reject the commodification of queer identities, and we celebrate a community standing together in the face of daily oppression and demanding to be heard, not pandered to.
Jonathan Fridg - Pittsburgh’s Stonewall Alliance
Pride, to me, is the opportunity to celebrate those who came before me to pave the way for the rights I have today, and to ask myself how I will do that for those that will come after me. Whether it’s planting flowers or cooking meals for the community, marching a banner down the city center, or listening to good music with good company and good dancing, I’m personally glad that Pride isn’t just a day, or a week, or a month. For me Pride is an everyday opportunity to exercise the right to be out and proud and the privilege to help others do the same.
Katie Heldstab and Christa Puskarich - Leona’s Ice Cream
Kristina Marusic - Environmental Health News
To me, Pride is a time to celebrate how far we've come as a community, learn about and honor the LGBTQ activists throughout history who made that happen, and strategize about what's next to advance social justice for all members of our beautifully diverse community. There's no denying that partying together is one the best parts of Pride — it's incredible to be able to let loose in a space filled with others who you know "get it" and have your back, especially for folks who don't always get to enjoy the privilege of that level of safety and acceptance. That in itself is powerful. But it can't be our only focus. We've come a long way, but there's a lot of work still to be done.
Diana Shank - Office Worker
So, Pride to me means a safe gathering space for a group of people, while more widely accepted now, can gather with each other to celebrate progress and community while still planning for the challenges ahead and the work needed to be done. It’s a time to let loose and to put a number to the entire LGBTQ community to show everyone how large of a group we are and how proud we are to be OUT.
Sister Shaquilla O'Neal - Steel City Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence
Pride lets us celebrate how far we've come and reminds us how far we still have to go. Some say it's become just a party these days, but there are oppressed LGBT people around the world who would kill for Pride to be "just a party" where they live. So, if you want to dance in a rainbow leather jockstrap, do it because you can, for those who can't and those who never could.
Thomas Waters - Pittsburgh artist, LGBTQ blogger
I marched in my first protest in 1976, when we had to wear paper bags over our heads for fear if we were identified, we would be fired from our jobs. To me, Pride is a celebration of all the progress we have made since then. Pride also, becomes a “space” where many elements of the diverse LGBTQIA community come out to be together, and I get to be around all of that diversity. Lastly, Pride becomes a way to boost energy and enthusiasm to keep making more progress, as homophobia and discrimination still impacts our community.