As a leatherman, I am not surprised at the recent kerfuffle over kink at Pride. The “A Gays” and others have long tried to make Pride a heteronormative-friendly event at the expense of the many subcultures that make our queer community what it is — queer!
I remember these same arguments from the early days of the parades, before the Tavern Guild took it over. I remember how the question of how we wanted to represent ourselves to the community as a whole always caused rancor.
Leather, guys and gals in revealing outfits, drag queens — we were all once considered a “problem” for Pride, at least here in Dallas.
Luckily, those heated discussions never kept the parade from being a celebration of our sexuality and our cultures. At least, they didn’t until recently.
I remember going to a planning meeting for the parade several years ago on behalf of a company I worked for that wanted to participate. We were told the parade was going to be “family friendly” that year, and most people there were caught by surprise by the announcement.
Family friendly? Exactly whose family were they talking about?
My family includes leathermen and leather dykes, transwomen and transmen, human puppies, daddies, drag queens — and more. We celebrate and openly proclaim our sexuality as an expression of our queerness. We have one day a year when we don’t have to wait until after dark to don leather and strut our stuff.
The idea that we would have to “tone it down” for the benefit of tourists who brought their kids to the parade to catch beads was — and is — abhorrent to me.
Why can’t those folks use the parade as a teaching moment for their youngsters? Why can’t they let the kids know that not everyone looks like Mommy and Daddy? They should take the parade as a chance to tell their kids that the world is far more interesting and colorful than the homogenized myth that many straight folk live in.
If you are afraid of the questions your kids will ask after seeing a few guys in speedos or leather or drag, then maybe you need to brush up on your parenting skills. Maybe you need to keep your sheltered children at home. Frankly, if I had seen a Pride parade as a child, I would have had a much easier time coming out as queer, minus a lot of the guilt and shame I felt at being different.
As has been said many times, Stonewall was a riot. For three days, queers fought the police with rocks and bottles.
And while they did it, they danced in the streets:
“We are the Stonewall girls!
“We wear our hair in curls!
“We wear no underwear!
“We show our pubic hair!
“We wear our dungarees
“Above our nelly knees!”
The queers at Stonewall sang that as they danced a kick-line in front of the police.
In that same spirit, I firmly believe Pride should continue that rebellious and in-your-face celebration of what makes us different. It is not our jobs or our ethnicity or our family background. It is our queerness and our sexuality that distinguish us from everyone else.
This Pride, embrace that spirit and include everyone who makes the LGBTQ+ community the rainbow that we are.
Hardy Haberman is a longtime local LGBT activist and a board member of the Woodhull Freedom Alliance. His blog is at DungeonDiary.blogspot.com.