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Posted by Philip on 22 February 2015, 1:32 pm in , , , , , , , , , ,

The shame about Pride

rainbow flag losing colourI had about 30 seconds of doubt but, after applying an essentialist principle — if it isn’t a definite Yes it’s a definite No — I decided not to go to the Pride Parade last night. Waking up to a barrage of outrage on social media about the assault that took place, I'm doubly glad — I have real concerns about the organisers’ response to what happened and I would have hated the crowds.

Win win, for me anyway.

What I gather went down was this: A small group of people (three it seems) were protesting peacefully about the treatment of transgender prison inmates. According to GayNZ.com:

Three anti-Corrections protesters made their way onto the parade route and unfurled a banner reading 'no pride in prisons’ in front of a police officer on a motorbike, as police were marching.

One woman suffered a suspected broken arm in an ensuing struggle with security staff, as the protesters resisted being moved off the parade route.

Other accounts say the victim, a Maori transwoman, was denied medical treatment for 45 minutes. There are also disputes about whether the woman was in fact injured by security staff or Police who, by the way, were marching in uniform (we’ll unpack that little bit of irony in a later paragraph).

So much for what happened. What I want to address is the response of organiser Richard Taki. GayNZ.com again:

The director of the Auckland Pride Parade has expressed disappointment that a protest group “chose to use the Auckland Pride Parade as an opportunity to broadcast their message”.

Pride Parade Director Richard Taki says not only did the protesters make the parade unsafe for themselves, but also for the 2,000 participants.

“Four thousand volunteer hours went into making the 2015 parade and this group has made a mockery of their time, commitment and love for the rainbow community,” Taki says.

“We are a nation known for our freedom of speech, and as a proud married gay man, I fully support this,” he says.

“However the Auckland Pride Parade is about our Pride as a community and as a nation. It is about us being supportive to each other.

“The protest was dangerous and callous, however, it did not stop us having the most successful pride parade to date.”

So, Richard sounds like a perfectionist packing a sad, but let’s back up the bus and go through this little bit of hypocrisy point by point.

Disappointment that a protest group “chose to use the Auckland Pride Parade as an opportunity to broadcast their message”.

Now let's remember back to a time, not so long ago, when the Pride Parade’s predecessor, the Hero Parade, was created to do exactly that — to “broadcast a message” about inequality and unfairness.

The protesters make the parade unsafe for themselves, but also for the 2,000 participants.

I don’t think so. I think a controlling over-reaction by Police and security made the parade unsafe for everyone.

Four thousand volunteer hours went into making the 2015 parade and this group has made a mockery of their time, commitment and love for the rainbow community.

I’m not sure how three victims of brutality make a mockery of however many people volunteered to run the parade. Once again, let’s move the focus to who got violent and broke someone’s arm. Not the protesters.

We are a nation known for our freedom of speech, and as a proud married gay man, I fully support this.

But they are free only to say the same as you, I take it, Richard?

However the Auckland Pride Parade is about our Pride as a community and as a nation. It is about us being supportive to each other.

Yes, exactly as I thought. Speech is free, except at Richard’s Auckland Pride Parade. We only support each other if we’re all happy and proud of Richard’s Parade.

The protest was dangerous and callous, however, it did not stop us having the most successful pride parade to date.

Oh what a wonderful note of hubris to end on. Despite everything, Richard was amazing. In fact he was more than amazing — he was the most amazing to date.

This is, to me, a textbook case, of a marginalised group becoming mainstream. The past is forgotten, the mainstream is courted and sucked up to, and anyone who isn’t playing “good little new mainstreamer” can toss off, lest the old mainstream forget the new mainstream were the old marginalised.

We’ll let the Police, who used to beat us up and toss us in jail, march in uniform in our parade. Oops, they’re still beating us up and, actually, raining on our parade. But that’s ok — they’re only beating up three bad new mainstreamers who are reminding everyone that we’re not really mainstream in such a dangerous and callous way.

And by the way, even though we’re so mainstream that we’re married, we’re still a proud community. Only one community mind you, and we all believe and take pride in the same thing. Whatever that is.

Finally, we’d like to thank our sponsors, like a certain bank, who even made GayTMs for us. You exploit employees in NZ and rip off non-profits in Australia, but all is forgiven. You gave us money and that's all that counts. And so sorry about those naughty new mainstreamers who threw white paint on one of those gorgeous, flamboyant, stereotyped, male-gender-biased creations. Anyone would think they were symbolising the whitewashing of non-heteronormative culture. What were they thinking? [NB. I've since read it was pink paint and pinkwashing.]

Ok, enough sarcasm. It’s the lowest form of wit but, sweet Jesus, it’s great. I titled this post “The shame about Pride.” I don’t want to use shame in the humiliation or distress-causing way (though it is the antonym of pride). That’s not constructive.

Rather, I mean it’s a pity about Pride. It’s a pity we’ve fallen into the trap of being mainstream. It’s a pity we’ve forgotten that, while we can get married, young people are killing themselves because they can’t see a way to live without mainstream sexual and gender identity. It's a pity that hubris trumps humility — and humanity.

The biggest pity, though, is we’re blaming our own for standing up for other and others' rights and freedoms. That’s nothing to be proud of.

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