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People who treat Pride like St Patrick’s Day could ruin it forever

Written by gaytourism

Drunk straight people exploiting Pride are the problem

People, who is the worst house guest you’ve ever had? My stories are probably mild compared to most.

One time, a straight couple borrowed my apartment for the weekend while I was away. I was fine with this, we were just out of university, and they didn’t have their own place yet. They told me later they had sex on the balcony in full view of my neighbors. When I returned home, I had a warning letter from the landlord and a blanket that was now unusable.

I bring this story up because I worry the LGBTI community are all becoming victims of poor house guest etiquette.

Is Pride becoming another St Patrick’s Day?

Pride is becoming another St Patrick’s Day. Instead of people descending onto a city to drink and wear green, they’re wearing rainbows. Parades are ever more corporate, funded by big companies offering discounted prices and shallow marketing.

I am all in favor of straight people attending Pride. However, they have to remember who’s house they are in.

For 364 days of the year, we walk in your world. We clean off our shoes, we work for your companies, and many of us don’t feel safe to kiss or hold our partners’ hands in public.

This past weekend, I attended New York City Pride. It included many people from the LGBTI spectrum, the camp gays wearing heels to the butch girls on wheels. The angry, the activists, the shirtless, and the ones looking for a home in the community.

It’s the ones in the latter camp that I worry about the most. You can be from a small town or not, from an oppressive religion, or struggling with internalized homophobia, biphobia or transphobia. But what would you see if you looked at many Pride events today?

Visibility, for sure. But you would also see so many straight men and women exploiting the event as an excuse to go and get drunk.

So many straight people are good ‘house guests’ at Pride

This isn’t every straight person.

I adore the 92-year-old mother, for example, who has held the same sign for over 30 years at NYC Pride. ‘I adore my lesbian daughters,’ it reads. ‘Keep them safe.’

I appreciate the boyfriends and girlfriends supporting their opposite-sex partners, who are perhaps wearing a bisexual Pride necklace or wristband for the first time.

And then there are the pro-LGBTI parents and the preachers, who I love for showing their strength, who serve as inspiration.

You can tell the Pride events that are going to become problems. When Brighton Pride, in the UK, announced Britney Spears as headliner the tickets sold out in record time. I’m sure many gays are going, it’s Britney after all. I can’t help but be concerned how the message of acceptance is being lost in the name of a fun day out.

LGBTI people need to remember we play a part. It has only been two years since we lost 49 of our brothers and sisters at Pulse.

Have fun. Express yourself. Party, laugh, drink and be free. But please take a moment. Remember how, in many US states, you can be fired for being LGBTI. Trans people are targeted, daily, in the media. Intersex people are virtually invisible. There are reasons why we march. If we reflect, it encourages others to be respectful.

Remember the reasons why we march

Discrimination against Irish people has become almost non-existent. And with it, St Patrick’s Day has become a shadow of its former self. It began as a religious holiday in which the ban on alcohol was lifted. It then became a time to commemorate and celebrate a culture. Across the world, now, it’s sadly almost a joke.

We can’t let Pride become the same. As the fight for LGBTI equality continues its struggle, it is still vital.

Pride is a political act. It is a day for people from every part of life to come forward and open up their idea of what ‘gay’, ‘bi’ and ‘trans’ means. While we can also be drag queens and party boys, and that’s great, we can also be just like you. We are parents, postmen and women, and preachers. We’re soldiers, singers and sewage workers. It’s the power of coming out, Pride can expand the world’s conceptions.

Straight people, please come to Pride but be mindful of where you are. Be good allies. Remember the young LGBTI teen looking on, a rainbow painted on their cheeks, and wondering where they fit in. Don’t trudge your mud in, sully our world, and don’t forget what the fight and march is actually about.

Joe Morgan is the editor-at-large at Gay Star News. Follow him on Twitter.

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