Stonewall: the reason for the season

Cincinnati Pride 2010 logo

Cincinnati Pride 2010 logo

Today marks the 41st anniversary of the Stonewall Riots and I’m beginning to wonder, What happened? I’ve attended a few Prides this June (and this weekend I will, of course, be at Cincinnati Pride), and I don’t see a celebration of the night drag queens and a myriad of other queers took the streets in response to raids on gay bars and police brutality.

What was originally a march to mark the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots has become a parade and festival with little to no semblance of it’s original purpose. I’m sure the first Pride organizers didn’t envision beer tents, nearly naked men dancing on top of Hummer limos or corporate sponsors in their plans. Why has Pride evolved into this?

Pride has moved far away from being a commemoration of the Stonewall Riots. At seems as if the anniversary of the birth of our liberation movement is now just another excuse to party. Many people treat Prides like a weekend getaway, and many Prides, like New York and San Francisco, are seen as vacation destinations. Pride has become more about business, corporations and the potential money to be made than remembering Stonewall — the reason we’re even able to celebrate so openly.

Cincinnati is, of course, no exception to this. While there has been corporate sponsorship of Cincinnati Pride for years, it makes sense with the Gay Chamber of Commerce planning this year’s festivities for it to focus on the potential financial boon Pride can be. I think the planners are trying to make Cincinnati a destination Pride. They’ve gone to several other area Prides to promote Cincinnati’s events. They’ve even reserved group rate hotel blocks that have been filled. What else would we expect the Gay Chamber of Commerce to do?

And I’d even bet a fair amount of Pride-goers, especially the younger ones, have never even heard of the Stonewall Riots. I hadn’t heard of them until I took LGBT studies in college, but I was certainly familiar with the tradition of Pride celebrations. Pride is meeting the same fate as Christmas: People kind of know why they celebrate it, but no one really cares because there’s free stuff and parties.

Not that Pride isn’t fun or shouldn’t be enjoyable, but can’t we find some sort of happy medium between the debauchery and it’s original purpose? There’s got to be a way.

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7 thoughts on “Stonewall: the reason for the season

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Stonewall: the reason for the season « Stuff Queer People Need To Know --

  2. Unfortunately, this seems to be a worldwide problem. Manchester UK has become exactly the same – and excuse for lousy pop acts to prance about on a big stage and get paid a fortune, no politics whatsoever, and outrageous prices excluding the poorer queers from attending – It started as a free fundraiser and awareness raiser for HIV charities. Some of us queers marched AGAINST Manchester Pride last year – can you imagine, having to march against “Pride”? Really sad to hear it’s so bad over there too, but it doesn’t surprise me.

  3. Just a quick note. Hope you had a great time a Cincinnati Pride. The corporate sponsorship is necessary to help keep the event open to as many people as possible. A additional peice of informaton, the LGBT community and its friends. personnally stepped up with private dollars and many hours of hard work to ensure the event was successful.

    As we plan for future events-I will bring up the idea of commorating Stonewall and the people that fought so hard to get us to where we are today-there is a lot of work to do still to do-I personnally want to focus on the future, and getting banners, billboards and a major LGBT event on Fountain Square-that’s a step in the right direction here in Cincinnati. Thanks for keeping us all grounded.

  4. Pingback: Happy International Drag Day to you! « Stuff Queer People Need To Know

  5. This is a very sad state of affairs, but I completely agree with what you’ve written here. It’s become a celebration of decadence, which is fine, but people have grown complacent and forget so often that there’s still plenty of things that our community is deprived of, and I think you’ve captured that beautifully.

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