Yeah, Pride Still Matters
Every year, the same question becomes a drumbeat leading up to Pride: does it still matter? Some say it’s become a corporate parade of rainbow decorations and a chance for straight, cis people to get ally cred by partying instead of doing the hard work of showing up to rallies or confronting homophobic family members. It’s hard to look at the hundreds of thousands crowding Amsterdam’s canals and squares without wondering what could be accomplished if all those people spent the rest of the year lobbying for LGBTQ rights.
For me, this year’s Pride came at the end of a couple of months of intensive research into Amsterdam’s LGBTQ history. (I can now explain why Amsterdam Pride is the first Saturday in August rather than the last Sunday in June.) I was launching an LGBTQ storytelling walk, so I dug deep into the city archives to learn as much as I could about the individuals on my tour. While there are inspiring stories and people on my walk, I spent the days leading up to Pride researching the victims of the first of four anti-gay persecutions to sweep the country in the 18th century.
When I started to walk down the Amstel, the first boats in the parade were heading towards the judges’ stand. The cleverly placed corporate logos and groups of already tipsy straight/cis-appearing partiers in rainbow halter tops made me want to start beating my own relevance drum.
And then a sight across the river stopped me short.