On Friday, June 4, 2021, United States Representative Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) tweeted just after 8 a.m. these words:
Thank you for your Pride tweets, packaging and merch.
Now how are you applying pressure to oppose hateful anti trans bills in state legislatures across the country?”
Now, this may seem a bit taboo because, what’s about to happen next for some of you reading this may just blow your minds, or even worse, may be considered completely blasphemous. Regardless, I feel it must be said and done.
After reading Rep. Pressley’s tweet, I could not help but think of the familiar text from the fifth chapter of Amos, the minor prophet found in the Old Testament.
“I hate, I despise your religious festivals; your assemblies are a stench to me. Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them. Though you bring choice fellowship offerings, I will have no regard for them. Away with the noise of your songs! I will not listen to the music of your harps. But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!”
To borrow a line from Wandy Sykes’ character Ruby in the 2005 movie, “Monster-in-Law,” I am sick. I am sick, sick, sick of your ish..And when I'm not sick, I'm tired. I'm sick and tired.”
Like Amos and like Ruby, I am also sick and tired.
I’m sorry, but as we celebrate the last day of the month, this is how I feel in this moment and how I think most of us within the LGBTQIA+ community, also affectionately known (thanks to TikTok) as the Alphabet Mafia, should feel. about the modern-day commercialization of Pride Month.
For 30 concentrated days in the calendar year, it’s all about Pride; the month, set aside in modern day culture to recognize the uprising that took place on June 28, 1969 in New York City after police officers raided the Stonewall Inn.
Log into LinkedIn at any point this month and you will find a sea of rainbow pride colors emblazoned upon various business logos. Turn on the TV and most networks have also included the flag on their chyrons. Walk into your nearest pharmacy, CVS or Walmart and its all the same. I have never seen so many rainbows in my life.
Don’t get me wrong, I am proud to be a member of the alphabet mafia. I, unlike most people in my generation, accepted my same sex attracted identity early in my developmental years. In the fifth grade, I told someone who, to this day, is still one of my closest and oldest friends who I believed myself to be and how I identified well before “coming out” was popular.
As someone who is now in my early 40s, I remember the time when pride wasn’t so popular. I remember when wearing a pride button or having a rainbow flag sticker on your car or your Trapper Keeper was a revolutionary act. I remember when just being yourself could cause be a calling card for danger. And to be honest, what I experienced in my younger years was nothing compared to what our fore brothers and fore sisters – whether lesbian, gay and/or transgender – experienced.
A lot has changed since 1969. But, as the old saying goes; the more things change, the more they stay the same. Corporations have band wagoned pride, appropriating the LGBTQ+ movements to promote a capitalist agenda. Pinkwashing or rainbow-washing this celebratory moment of revolution and rebellion as efforts are still being made in the name of moralism and patriotism to create barriers to keep our transgender brothers and sisters from exercising their own agency.
Rep. Pressley makes a great point. The merch is good and all, but they are nothing more than burnt offerings if the latest pride inspired product is as far as their support goes. If all you are trying to do is convince us that our queer dollars are welcome and nothing is being done to ensure that policies and laws are enacted to protect us in our everyday lives – then what good is releasing merch for us to purchase when we don’t even have the means to obtain said dollars in a meaningful and life-giving way?
If you truly support us, then support us in July, August, September, October, November, December, January, February, March, April and May. If you truly support us, ensure that there are quality employment opportunities for our transgender brothers and sisters. If you truly support us, help in the efforts of decriminalizing being LGBTQIA+ on the state and local level. If you truly support us, let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!