It was a street party; but it also put the community’s growing institutional strength on display each year, established a forum for the sharing of energy and ideas, and educated millions of straight people (who, in turn, educated others). Doing this year after year gave local gay communities a reason to get organized, and stay organized — so when trouble came calling, they could organize to fight it without a moment of confusion or hesitation.
These events should be massively, wildly, unapologetically fun; and fabulous PR for the cause. Without the Seriousness of Purpose required by a demonstration, a Liberal Pride festival can just loosen up and relax. It’s a celebration of all things progressive — and we do it right, the Biggest Asshole Rule kicks in when everyone in town realizes that compared to us, the conservatives are bunch of uptight, self-righteous stuffed shirts who couldn’t throw a decent party if Reagan’s resurrection depended on it.
And where there’s fun, there’s hope. People, we have gotten pretty dismal over the past 30 years. And I hate to break it to you — but, as desperate as this nation is, nobody follows pessimists. We are not going to get our political mojo back for good until we remember how to find joy in this work again. Pride celebrations could be a place to start rediscovering the lost art of raising hell and having fun.
Having an annual just-for-fun day would enable us to offload this social function from demonstrations and protests. It seems like a lot of people turn out for demonstrations because they enjoy the street party, and the sense of connection with the larger left community. Unfortunately, … this diverse and celebratory atmosphere usually works against the intent of the protest, too often diluting the focus and message into utter incoherence and making any kind of real paradigm-busting direct action damned near impossible.
If we have annual events specifically dedicated [to] diversity and celebration and scratching that street party itch, it might liberate our protests to evolve into other more creative, focused, and effective forms. Like King Bertram, when we work, we’ll really work. And when we play, we’ll really play. Both will be vastly better when we stop trying to conflate the two into the same events.