Occupy The Pride 2012!

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What: Occupy The Pride!

When: Sunday, June 17, 2012 — 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

Where: Tom McCall Waterfront Park between SW Ash and Pine Streets, which is located north of the fenced-off Pride NW “festival” and has a wonderful view of the parade, Willamette River, and weather permitting, Mt. Hood!

Uncage the Queerness!

History of the humankind repeatedly demonstrates that many of the previously oppressed population, upon gaining more privileges and rights, in turn become oppressors themselves, as long as they remain within the framework of the oppression.  Although the worldwide Pride parades and celebrations trace their origins to the 1969 Stonewall anti-police riot, the original passion for justice, equality and freedom seemingly has been replaced with images of corporate advertisement and promotion of consumerism.

Although without doubt we live in a unprecedented period in the progress of queer rights, what gets often forgotten are much of the day to day struggles faced by those who do not fit into the canonized stereotype of gay and lesbian couples which the Corporate America now views as an emerging “market” that can be exploited due to the perception of affluence, higher educational levels, and lack of “family commitments” (not true but it is a widespread perception that gays have more disposable income).

Under the pink-washed and sanitized Corporate America ideation of “The Gay and Lesbian Market,” untold multitudes of queer people still suffer discrimination, hate crimes,  police repressions, prison rapes, immigration detentions and deportations, biased judicial system, difficulties accessing healthcare and social safety net services, difficulties obtaining IDs and traveling freely, difficulties in employment and housing, as well as the felt backlash from the resurgence of the far right which may decide the fate of the 2012 elections.

Occupy The Pride Portland says the struggles for universal human rights are not over, far from over, and this is not a time to sit complacent and fooling ourselves into thinking that Corporate America’s co-optation and exploitation of the queerness for their own financial gains mean social acceptance and progress.  Many corporations such as Bank of America and Wells Fargo, who maintain annual presence as paid vendors/exhibitors at the pride festival, also contributes heavily to candidates who are opposed to all forms of sexual rights of self-determination (as well as to other anti-human rights and anti-equality causes).  They put their rainbow flags and gay-friendly masks on for this day, but in the end, they work for their shareholders and their political clout.

Occupy The Pride Portland also says that there is more to be “gay” than merely assimilating into a middle-class, white culture and emulating a heterosexist nuclear family model based on a throwback to the 1950s suburban America, and adopting their consumeristic lifestyles.   We are queer positive, sex positive, poly positive, and stand up for the rights for everyone.  While same-sex marriage and military for gays and lesbians dominate today’s “LGBT” political agenda, we do not necessarily believe monogamous marriage and subsequent establishment of nuclear families is the only path, and do not believe that an advancement of sexual minority rights should depend on our participation in the imperialistic military agenda of the United States invading, murdering and torturing other countries.

Occupy Detroit

Occupy Detroit (Photo credit: Cocoloco Photography) .

Finally, Occupy The Pride Portland seeks to build on the energy, spirit and success of the Occupy Movement worldwide, and together in solidarity with Occupy Portland and other Occupations in the region, and bring the Occupy presence to the annual Pride celebration.  We accomplish this by creating an Occupy-style, non-commercial, people-centric alternative to the Pride Northwest “festival” so people who cannot afford spending their money on $7 admission “donation” in addition to grossly overpriced concessions (and, also importantly, those who are on recovery from alcoholism who cannot be around people drinking beer everywhere) can find a place to gather and celebrate the Pride weekend.  While doing so, we also position this event as an opportunity for engagement, community education and conversations to connect the wider Portland area queer communities to the Occupy movement and its diverse struggles for a better, more just society.

This is a grass-roots event organized by an ad hoc group of people connected to the Occupy Portland movement.  You are also welcome to be part of the organizing.  For pre-event organizing communications, join the online Occupy The Pride group on the Occupy Portland’s social network, at http://www.portlandgeneralassembly.org/groups/occupy-the-pride

As of this writing we are not an “official” Occupy Portland event; however, we accede to the Occupy Portland community norms.  In particular, this is a queer-positive, feminist, and anti-oppression event.  While we as part of the diverse 99 percent welcome all queer folks and allies, any racist, classist, heterosexist, misogynist, or cissexist attitudes are not welcome.  Occupy The Pride Portland is intended to be a non-confrontational event with a greater focus on community outreach and education.  We do not advocate any disruption of the Pride NW parade or festival.

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