Marches, Guns, and Safety

Not-My-Pride

Gay Pride 2015

The last time I marched at Gay Pride in New York, I swore I was never going to march in the parade again. Some friends in Queer Nation drafted me to help carry a banner. We were right behind the Walmart rainbow float “Give me a W, give me an A, give me an L – what’s that spell?” Doesn’t spell Gay Pride to me.

Christopher Street Liberation Day March - 1977

Christopher Street Liberation Day March – 1977

I loved Gay Pride when it was still the Christopher Street Liberation Day March. It was my favorite day of the year. It was energizing being around so many people who were out. I could feel the solidarity, even though I knew that the leather men, the Trotskyites, and the lesbian-feminists wouldn’t talk to, or work with, each other during the rest of the year. There were no official contingents, no floats, no corporate sponsors. Just a mass of men and women and a few in-betweens chanting “What do we want? GAY RIGHTS!  When do we want it NOW!” Or “Ho Ho Homosexual, Anything else is ineffectual.” I’ll take liberation over pride any day.

I remember what is was like when gay men and lesbians had no rights at all. When most people thought that it was safer to be in the closet than to be out. Our rights are fragile. What is happening in Russia and Turkey could happen here; Donald Trump doesn’t have to win the election for intolerance and intimidation to take hold.

It is dangerous to get too comfortable, or complacent. To believe that Walmart and TDBank and the other corporate sponsors care about us, when they are just marketing to us. To believe that if you are mainstream enough, if you are assimilated enough, then you can make yourself safe.

I don’t feel threatened by the recent murders in Orlando, San Bernadino, and Charleston. It is the routine institutional, legal, and bureaucratic violence that gets to me, and the interpersonal violence – the unintentional (but relentless) assumption of straight and cisgender identity.

I recognize that I have it easy in many respects. I own my own home. I have money in the bank. I have white privilege (whether I want it or not) and a college education. I choose to look queer, to look butch, to look trans, to look like myself, because it is the way I fight the pressure to conform. That pressure kills more people in the LGBT community than guns do.

I don’t have a gun and I don’t want a gun. I have friends who are responsible rifle owners. They hunt ducks and deer. I don’t want to take their guns away, but I want to make it at least as difficult to buy a hunting rifle as it is to get a driver’s license and buy a car. I want to make it illegal to own an assault rifle. I was robbed at gunpoint in NYC during the crack epidemic; gun violence doesn’t happen in a vacuum. There are other issues that need to be dealt with, including poverty and racism.

There is nothing I can do to guarantee my safety, but there are things I can do to reduce my risk. Staying home and avoiding crowds is not one of them. According to the Centers for Disease Control, my top five risks are: heart disease, cancer, unintentional injury (drugs, car accidents, etc.), suicide, and liver disease. I need to eat properly, watch my weight, keep my drinking under control, exercise, drive defensively, and stay connected to my friends and my community.

I’m probably not marching in the big parade on Sunday, but I am definitely going to two marches this week. On Friday, I’m going to the Trans Day of Action. On Saturday, I’m going to the Dyke March. I know it sounds like a contradiction, but I belong at both.

Notes: The Centers For Disease Control produced three informative charts on causes of death by age group. The most recent statistics are from 2014. Here are the links to the “10 Leading Causes of Death by Age Group, United States – 2014”, the “10 Leading Causes of Injury Deaths by Age Group Highlighting Unintentional Injury Deaths”, and the “10 Leading Causes of Injury Deaths by Age Group Highlighting Violence Related Injury Deaths.”

There is 3 minutes of footage on YouTube of the Russian LGBT activists being arrested for unfurling a rainbow banner on May Day here.

 

 

11 thoughts on “Marches, Guns, and Safety

  1. Lesboi

    Haven’t been to a Pride event in a long time. Honestly, I never got the whole pride thing. Liberation or calls to action or even a march make much more sense to me. Nothing like that happens where I live and I hate crowds but it makes me feel better knowing that you’re out there pushing the boundaries and keeping it real. March on!

    Liked by 3 people

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    1. Jamie Ray Post author

      Pride events serve three purposes – to run into people you haven’t seen for a while (including ex’s), to cruise, and to get saturated with LGBT faces/bodies/images.
      It can be great, or intimidating, or alienating depending on my mood/headset.
      The two events I’m going to are rag tag and fun and more on the liberation/celebration end of the spectrum. I’ll let out a whoop for you.

      Liked by 2 people

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    1. Jamie Ray Post author

      Thanks. I’m actually volunteering at the Trans March to do peacekeeping – which always makes me feel safer (ok I’m a control freak). I’m not sure how to choose happiness – I’m a pacifist so peace is easy to choose.

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  2. sam davies

    Found out about the Trans march in March, two days before it took place and couldn’t get there. This year I was at Trans Health the day of the Dyke March. Pride was a way to get out there and show the colors. However, I believe I am an activist; marching around City Hall really ‘did it’ for me. I live in the ‘burbs and haven’t been to the city till now and I am in my late fifties. There is plenty of time to get out and be active and, from here on out, I welcome each opportunity. You give me the incentive to do so much more!

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
    1. Jamie Ray Post author

      I’m lucky that I live in the city and can get to anything pretty easy. I despise Facebook, but I find out about demo’s from a group I follow in NYC – there has been a lot of stuff happening between Pride, the response to the shooting in Orlando, and Trump – so it may be a busy summer…

      Liked by 1 person

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  3. queerasterisk

    I accidentally found myself at London Pride last summer and while I always enjoy being around my fellow queers and using a bathroom that isn’t the one I’m “supposed” to use, I have also found myself not enjoying Pride the way I used to. The corporate floats suck all the life out of the events. I wish I had been alive for the Christopher St Liberation Day march… although I’m not sure I wish for the extra discrimination and hate that came with that era.

    You are so right that “our rights are fragile.” Our rights certainly do not feel solid at the moment. Super scary but I won’t back down, sit down, or shut up. Thanks for the post.

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
    1. Jamie Ray Post author

      Nothing says pride like marching for two hours behind a Walmart float (and people cheered like crazy because they were tossing trinkets to the crowd like Mardi Gras).
      It is a different fight now than it was then, but there is still a lot of work to be done. Any time there is an attack on the community, we all have to stand up to it, even if it is on the other side of the world.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  4. 1SageFemme

    I haven’t taken my kids to Pride in a few years. It’s too hot and crowded and corporate. But this year we’ll be going to the Dyke March, not just for me, but for my kids to see that they are not alone as queer spawn, and we will not be intimidated.

    Liked by 2 people

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  5. hiddeninyoursoul

    I recently moved to San Francisco, and I live two blocks from where the trans march started today. I went to the park to check it out and was amazed by how many trans folks were there.

    When I was in San Diego, I went to a trans march a couple of years ago, and there weren’t even a tenth of the people there that I saw today. It was a very nice feeling seeing so many people there that I could identify with.

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